Danske Bank and the financial supervisory authority in Denmark as well as Estonia were from an early stage aware that there was a risk of shady costumers and money laundering at the Estonian branch of the bank. The alarm bells started ringing as early as the spring of 2013 - long before the bank by its own admission discovered the problems and closed the dubious accounts in 2014.
Two weeks ago, Berlingske disclosed how billions were channeled through Nordea Denmark and the Estonian branch of Danske Bank and on to tax havens.
According to the authorities in Moldova and Latvia the money stems from criminal activity in Russia.
The transactions began in 2011 and apparently continued unimpeded until May 2014. According to experts the transactions were so suspicious that they should have been reported to the authorities as required by the law on money laundering.
Two weeks ago, the CEO of Danske Bank, Thomas Borgen, apologized and stated that the bank only discovered the dubious costumer relations in 2014 whereupon it terminated the accounts in question and replaced the management in Estonia.
However, the bank was aware of the problem with foreign costumers in the Estonian branch as early as 2013. This is evidenced by a mail sent by a executive in the bank’s department for money laundering surveillance in the spring of 2013. The email was sent to the management in the Estonian branch as well as an executive at the group headquarters.
The mail discloses that the Estonian as well as the Danish financial supervisory authority was »concerned« about »Russian costumers« at the Estonian branch.
Further, the Estonian supervisory authority allegedly approached the bank on the subject, disturbed that Danske Bank didn’t take the problem »particularly serious.«
A written answer from general council Flemming Pristed, Danske Bank, does not address the question whether the statement of CEO Thomas Borgen was appropriate and exhaustive.
»During a course of events like the one in question there will often be some time from you first you become aware of potential irregularities and to the realization that there is indeed a problem. Based on a number of informations in early 2014, we concluded that there was a need to implement certain measures, amongst these the termination of costumer relations and the introduction of a new set of control procedures.«