Danske Bank admits fraud and must pay $2 billion fine in US case

Danske Bank, Denmark's largest, has pleaded guilty to defrauding American banks in order to move money from criminals in Russia and elsewhere into the US financial system and will forfeit $2 billion, the Justice Department said.

Danske Bank admits fraud and must pay $2 billion fine in US case
A view of the Danske bank headquarters in Copenhagen. File photo: Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish bank misled US banks about its Estonia branch’s anti-money laundering controls so as to facilitate access to the US financial system for high-risk customers outside Estonia, including in Russia, the department said in a statement.

“Today’s guilty plea by Danske Bank and two-billion-dollar penalty demonstrate that the Department of Justice will fiercely guard the integrity of the US financial system from tainted foreign money — Russian or otherwise,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

The bank was accused of laundering some 200 billion euros ($212 billion at today’s exchange rate) from 2007 to 2015. The scandal erupted in 2018.

Danske Bank Estonia had a profitable business line with non-resident customers called the NRP, which it lured by saying they could transfer large amounts of money through that bank with little to no oversight, the Justice Department said.

Danske Bank employees conspired with NRP customers to hide the true nature of their transactions, including by using shell companies to conceal the true owners, it added.

“Access to the US financial system via the US banks was critical to Danske Bank and its NRP customers, who relied on access to US banks to process US dollar transactions,” the statement said.

It said Danske Bank Estonia processed $160 billion through US banks on behalf of the NRP clients.

“Today, Danske Bank accepted responsibility for defrauding US financial institutions and funneling billions of dollars in suspicious and criminal transactions through the United States,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Separately, the bank has agreed to pay the US Securities and Exchange Commission $413 million to settle charges that it misled investors about its compliance with anti-money laundering requirements, the SEC said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Why Copenhagen police say crime is on the up in Christiania

Crime in Copenhagen’s hippie enclave of Christiania is increasing, police in the capital say following a number of drugs-related arrests.

Why Copenhagen police say crime is on the up in Christiania

Copenhagen Police arrested three men on Saturday for selling cannabis on Pusher Street in the alternative enclave of Christiania, as they continue their efforts to stamp out the area’s former open-air cannabis market. 

According to police, 875 people were arrested for selling cannabis in the first 11 months of 2022, more than in any other year over the past four years. 

A possible explanation for the increase in arrests could be that the rewards for operating hash stands have receded, according to a police spokesperson.

“It is extremely unattractive to stand out there, and therefore a lot of new people come in who have no idea what it is all about. Many of them come from outside the catchment area, and some of them are peripherally associated with a criminal group,” Simon Hansen, head of a Copenhagen Police special unit, told newspaper Politiken.

“It’s a bit – in inverted commas – ‘easier’ for us to catch these people,” he said. 

Around half of the stalls in the street are linked to various gangs and biker gangs, such as Satudarah, Bandidos, Hells Angels and Loyal To Familia, with the rest run by people living in Christiania, the Berlingske newspaper reported earlier this month.

The trend of rising crime occurs against a background of potential housing develop in Christiania, as the enclave’s residents decide on a plan to put affordable housing in the area.

Copenhagen Police last year told news wire Ritzau that the majority of people who are arrested within Christiania come from socially underprivileged or marginalised backgrounds.

They are exploited in gang and biker circles, resulting in them in some cases operating the illicit hash market stalls, according to the police.

Conflicts between organised crime groups have reportedly become more frequently aired in the Pusher Street market.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s ‘freetown’ Christiania hangs onto soul, 50 years on