Danish prosecutors demand prison over company’s fuel sales to Syria

Danish prosecutors on Tuesday requested a 54-million-euro fine against a company accused of violating an EU fuel embargo against Syria, as well as two years' jail for its chief executive.

A call for a $61-million penalty against Danish company Dan-Bunkering was made at Odense Court on November 30th over fuel sales to Syria.
A call for a $61-million penalty against Danish company Dan-Bunkering was made at Odense Court on November 30th over fuel sales to Syria. Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix

The call for the $61-million penalty against Dan-Bunkering comes during the company’s trial for the sale of around 172,000 tonnes of jet fuel to Russian firms in 33 transactions between 2015 and 2017.

That fuel was delivered to Syria where it was used in Russian air force planes fighting in the country’s civil war.

“The seriousness of the violation is clear from the fact that the fuel filled the tanks of Russian fighters, which bombed the opposition against (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad in his name,” prosecutor Anders Rechendorff told the court in Odense.

Keld Demant, the chief executive of Dan-Bunkering’s parent company Bunker Holding, is the target of prosecutor’s demand for a jail term.

Both companies and the boss have pleaded not guilty, saying they had no control over what their customers — themselves not under sanctions — did with the fuel.

But Rechendorff said Demant had not taken due care when reading information about dealing with Russian firms in 2016.

“Even negligence can be grounds for a conviction, and the accused should have examined what was going on much more thoroughly,” he said.

The 647 million kroner (87 million euros) brought in by the fuel sales amounted to around two percent of the company’s revenue in 2015-17.

EU sanctions in force since 2011 against the Syrian regime include a fuel embargo and the freezing of the Damascus central bank’s assets held in the EU.

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Danish court jails woman in 4 billion euro money laundering case

A Danish court on Thursday sentenced a woman to jail for attempting to launder nearly four billion euros, the largest case of money-laundering in the Nordic country's history.

Danish court jails woman in 4 billion euro money laundering case

The 49-year-old Lithuanian woman had confessed to the crime in police interviews, Denmark’s Prosecution Service said in a statement.

Between December 2008 and March 2016, nearly four billion euros were funnelled through a series of companies, all of which had accounts in Danske Bank’s Estonian branch.

“This is the largest amount we have seen in a money laundering case brought before a court in Denmark,” special prosecutor Lisette Jørgensen said in a statement.

“The woman had a role in a large money laundering complex built around 40 Danish limited partnerships,” Jorgensen added.

Using her expertise, she “made it possible for the companies to move money around in order to disguise their illegal origins”, the prosecutor said.

According to the prosecution service, two other defendants in the case have also been linked to the companies. 

One is a 49-year-old former Russian citizen who is in custody after she was extradited from the UK in December 2021, and the other is a 56-year-old Lithuanian man living in Denmark.

The Lithuanian woman sentenced Thursday was given three years and 11 months in prison for laundering millions in a separate case. 

Together with Thursday’s verdict, her total sentence is eight years in jail.

Prosecutors also said the case is connected a larger scandal involving Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest.

The bank is still recovering after it became embroiled in criminal investigations in several countries over some 200 billion euros in transfers that passed through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015, involving some 15,000 foreign clients, many Russian.

READ ALSO: Danish police drop money laundering case against Danske Bank directors