Estonian branch of Danske Bank handled $30bn of Russian money

Photo: EPA Danske Bank branch in Tallinn, Estonia.

Danske Bank is caught on laundering more than $30bn of Russian and ex-Soviet money through its Estonian branch in a single year, Financial Times said, citing the report by Promontory Financial consulting company which got hold of a draft report commissioned by the bank.

According to the report up to $30bn was parked in Danske’s Estonian branch by non-residents in 2013, the peak year of a scandal that lasted from 2007 until 2015. A person close to the investigation stated that “It’s a truly breathtaking amount for such a small branch. You can’t have that amount flowing through without it raising questions.” An internal check has already been initiated 

Not all of those transactions however are questionable. But it is up to the bank to affirm itself - and regulators - that it was not being used to launder funds and that it had strong enough controls to spot dirty money. 

“We take the matter very seriously, which is why we have initiated very extensive investigations,” said Ole Andersen, chairman of Danske Bank.

Earlier, the Estonian prosecutor's office initiated an investigation into the complaint of Bill Browder, a financier and founder of the Hermitage Capital foundation. He convicted employees of the Estonian branch of Danske Bank in facilitating money laundering.

Attorney General of Estonia announced that 26 employees of the Estonian branch of the bank are currently under investigation. They, according to Estonian law enforcement agencies, created a criminal group engaged in money laundering, through which $13 billion could be transferred.

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