Danske Bank: What we know so far

CEO Thomas Borgen resigned on Wednesday, after an investigation into possible money laundering in the bank’s Estonia branch

By Rebekah Tunstead | 21 September 2018

A National Crime Agency (NCA) spokesperson told bobsguide this morning it is “aware of the use of UK registered companies in this case and has related on-going operational activity. The threat posed by the use of UK company structures as a route for money laundering is widely recognised and the NCA is working with partners across government to restrict the ability of criminals to use them in this way.”

When asked about the NCA’s statement, Danske’s head of press said: "It is quite natural that authorities take an interest in the findings of the report. We have an ongoing dialogue with the authorities in a number of countries and we are at their service if they need information. However, we generally do not comment on our specific dialogue with the authorities.”

Following the findings of an investigation into Danske Bank’s Estonian branch, the bank’s CEO resigned on Wednesday.

The investigation, which began in autumn 2017, revealed that around €200bn had gone through the bank’s Estonian branch from non-resident customers over an eight year period.

The bank outlined in its statement on Wednesday, major deficiencies in the bank´s governance and control systems, as one of the main reasons for the trouble that has unfolded in its Estonian branch.

The investigation comprises of an examination into customers and transactions from 2007 to 2015, and a further examination questioning whether managers and employees, members of the executive board, or the board of directors had sufficiently fulfilled their obligations.

In Borgen’s resignation statement he said: “It is clear that Danske Bank has failed to live up to its responsibility in the case of possible money laundering in Estonia. I deeply regret this. Even though the investigation conducted by the external law firm concludes that I have lived up to my legal obligations, I believe that it is best for all parties that I resign.”

Danske commissioned Bruun & Hjejle law firm, to lead the investigations. According to Danske, the investigation has covered around 15,000 customers, and 9.5 million payments. Around 70 interviews have been conducted with current and former employees, and managers. Approximately 70 people have worked full time on the investigations.

Danske said in a statement on Wednesday: “We are not able to provide an accurate estimate of the amount of suspicious transactions. At this point we have gone through 6,200 customers, starting with the customers hitting most risk indicators first. Almost all of these customers have been reported to the authorities.”

In a statement, the chairman of the board of directors, Ole Andersen said: “There is no doubt that the problems related to the Estonian branch were much bigger than anticipated when we initiated the investigations. The findings of the investigations point to some very unacceptable and unpleasant matters at our Estonian branch, and they also point to the fact that a number of controls at the Group level were inadequate in relation to Estonia.”

Parts of the investigation are yet to be completed, but Danske says it will keep the relevant authorities updated. The bank is sharing and will continue to share all relevant findings with them. Borgen will stay on as Danske’s CEO until a new CEO is appointed.

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