In one of the biggest money laundering scandals in the world, the Danish bank Danske Bank has confessed to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in the United States. The bank also agreed to pay a $2 billion fine on Tuesday, according to the US Department of Justice.
The bank admitted to defrauding US banks between 2008 and 2016. According to prosecutors, Danske’s Estonian office lured, among other things, Russian customers with the prospect of transferring large amounts of money without much supervision. About 212 billion dollars flowed from these customers through the American financial system via the branch that has since been closed.
Role of Deutsche Bank still unclear
One of Danske Bank’s largest correspondent banks, which received and forwarded the money in this case in the United States, was Deutsche Bank. The US Department of Justice has also investigated their role and apparently continues to do so. The bank had already paid various fines in the matter. However, the Justice Department may not have completed its investigation, according to the bank’s most recent annual report. When asked by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a spokesman for the bank did not want to comment on whether the agreement reached by the Danes could also have implications for Deutsche Bank.
According to US authorities, Danske employees used shell companies to disguise ownership of funds. Accordingly, Danske has known about illegal transactions since at least 2014. “We apologize unreservedly and accept full responsibility for the unacceptable omissions and misconduct of the past, which no longer have a place at Danske Bank today,” said Danske Board Chairman Martin Blessing. He was once the head of Commerzbank, Blessing came to Danske only after the scandal became known. In addition to the criminal settlement with the US Department of Justice, the bank also settled a civil investigation with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Danish authorities on Tuesday.
Danske Bank said some time ago that it was making a provision of around 1.9 billion euros for the costs of the legal dispute.