Dutch Banks Given Green Light for Joint AML Investigations
05 Mar 2020

Plans by lenders in the Netherlands to tackle complex international money-laundering schemes together have won support from regulators following a seven-month investigation to assess the Dutch financial sector’s exposure to the scandal that engulfed Danske Bank Estonia.

De Nederlandsche Bank, or DNB, wrapped up the investigation in December after pinpointing and reviewing the transactions of Dutch banking clients who received large incoming wires from Danske Bank Estonia from 2010 to 2018, years that overlap with the Baltic lender’s central role in moving tens of billions of dollars out of Russia and other former Soviet states.

In an interview with ACAMS moneylaundering.com, senior officials at DNB said that the findings of their investigation and the methods used during it could help Dutch financial institutions develop new structures for detecting and halting illicit cross-border transactions like those seen in schemes such as the Russian Laundromat.

“We don’t exclude the possibility that … this type of laundromat activity still goes on,” said Remy Jansen, head of DNB’s integrity department. “We hope that what banks have learned in this exercise is not just to look back—but also whether they can more quickly identify where these risks are moving towards.”

Estonian regulators ordered Danske Bank to close its local branch in February 2019 after an internal audit found that more than €200 billion in suspiciously obtained funds had passed into and through accounts for nonresident legal entities from 2007 to 2015, with nearly a quarter of those transactions originating from Russia.

Earlier reports revealed Danske Bank Estonia’s role in the Russian Laundromat, Azerbaijani Laundromat and the notorious $230 million tax fraud and money laundering scheme in Russia unearthed by Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail cell in 2009 after being beaten and denied medical care.

News of the Dutch financial sector’s exposure to the Russian Laundromat emerged in August 2017, when DNB disclosed findings that a number of local produce and flower exporters sold goods to Russian buyers but received payment from third parties with accounts in the Baltics.

DNB subsequently asked several financial institutions to provide data on any clients who received funds from the Baltic lender during the eight-year period under review. Jansen declined to name the banks who responded.

By Koos Couvée, ACAMS moneylaundering.com, 2 March 2020

Read more at ACAMS moneylaundering.com

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