05 Jul 2019
A Danske Bank whistleblower has requested a criminal investigation into the Danish lender for allegedly seeking to “discredit” him through an internal probe, the Financial Times reported Thursday.
The US-based attorney for Howard Wilkinson told the newspaper that he had contacted Danish prosecutors on Wednesday requesting a probe into whether the bank had attempted to “blackmail” his client into silence after for the Danske executive raised concerns about suspected Russian money laundering at lender’s Estonian branch.
Wilkinson is credited with being the first to disclose an estimated €200 billion in suspicious transactions processed by the unit and tied to high-risk clients in Russia and former Soviet states, according to the FT.
Danske launched the internal probe in 2014 following claims by Wilkinson that clients of the Estonian branch included shell companies operating as fronts for Russian intelligence officials and relatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to reporting by FT’s Caroline Binham.
At one point, Danske executives considered hiring private investigations firm Parsifal to conduct the probe into Wilkinson but ultimately opted to handle the matter internally.
Two unnamed individuals familiar with the matter confirmed the existence of the internal probe but denied any improprieties in scrutinizing Wilkinson. The investigation looked a potential severance package for Wilkinson as well as whether he had been improperly pressured, according to the FT.
To date, ten individuals have been charged by Danish authorities in connection with the money-laundering scandal, including the bank’s former CEO Thomas Borgen and the former chairman of Denmark’s financial supervisor Henrik Ramlau-Hansen, who had also served as Danske’s finance director.
Danske Bank declined to comment on the allegations by Wilkinson’s attorney, the Financial Times reported.
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