21 Dec 2020
Danske Bank A/S probably didn’t breach U.S. sanctions when its Estonian unit handled billions of dollars in suspicious funds, meaning the lender could be facing a smaller fine than previously feared.
Denmark’s biggest bank has been told by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that an investigation into it is being closed, according to a statement on Saturday.
“OFAC has decided to take no action in relation to civil enforcement of U.S. sanctions in the Estonia case,” Philippe Vollot, chief compliance officer at Copenhagen-based Danske, said in an emailed statement.
Still, the bank said Saturday’s announcement doesn’t rule out the possibility that OFAC may take “future enforcement action should new or additional information warrant renewed attention.”
Danske has been under investigation for alleged money laundering since admitting more than two years ago that it failed to screen 200 billion euros ($245 billion) in non-resident flows through its now shuttered Estonian unit. The bank’s own probe into the matter found that a large part of that money was suspicious.
The laundering scandal has put a spotlight on the Nordics — generally considered low on corruption and high on transparency — amid allegations that a number of banks in the region were systematically used as conduits for tainted cash from the former Soviet Union.
By Morten Buttler, Bloomberg, 19 December 2020
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