05 Jun 2019
The Estonian government intends to move forward with a raft of measures that will seek to make the Baltic nation, long at the center of Europe’s largest money laundering scandal, a far less appealing destination for financial crooks.
In a bid to repair its reputation following the disclosure last year that a Russian money laundering network had funneled as much as $230 billion in suspicious transactions through the Tallinn branch of Danske Bank, the Estonian government will seek to raise its cap on financial crime penalties to as much as €5 million, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing Estonia’s Justice Minister Raivo Aeg.
Government officials are separately seeking to revive a proposal by the previous government that would empower law enforcement officials to freeze suspicious assets for as long as a year in instances when their legitimate origins can’t be explained, according to the news outlet, which also noted pending rules for crypto-asset firms.
Estonian banks, which have already cracked down on transactions involving non-resident clients and implemented a ban on providing services for shell companies, may soon find themselves subject to monetary penalties for financial misdemeanors, the report said. Money laundering could separately be added to a list of crimes for which surveillance is permitted, Aeg told the news outlet.
“We now know the problems that must be prevented so that money-laundering crimes wouldn’t be so easy to commit,” Aeg said. “One must admit what’s been done wrong on the Estonian side and take measures to avoid it in future. But we can’t let Estonia be blamed for the work not done or outright misdeeds by other parties.”
In his interview with Bloomberg, Aeg attributed the Danske Bank scandal to failures by the Danish lender’s parent company but said that Estonian officials lacked “a helicopter view” to sufficiently tackle the problem.
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