Danish lender Danske Bank books $1.9 billion provision to settle money laundering case

Danish lender Danske Bank said on Thursday that it would book a $1.9 billion provision in the third quarter for impending fines related to the bank’s involvement in a massive money laundering scandal in the Baltic nation of Estonia.

“The discussions with U.S. and Danish authorities related to the Estonia matter are now at a stage where Danske Bank can reliably estimate the total financial impact of a potential coordinated resolution,” CEO Carsten Egeriis said in the bank’s earnings report.

Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, admitted in 2018 that some 200 billion dollars of suspicious origin had flown through accounts at its Estonian branch from 2007 to 2015, following reports of transfers, including from family members of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Egeriis said Danske Bank has now booked provisions worth a total of $2.1 billion to settle fines from authorities related to the Estonia case, including a provision of 1.5 billion kroner in 2018.

Danske Bank’s Danish lenders have booked a $1.9 billion provision to settle a money laundering case in Estonia.
(Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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The case, which led to major investigations in Denmark, Estonia and the United States among other countries, has been described as possibly the largest money laundering scandal ever in Europe.

The scandal lead to a substantial shake-up at the Danish bank, including the resignation of Danske Bank’s CEO. Authorities in Estonia, which was described as acting as a transit country that enabled money laundering by non-resident clients through lax financial regulations, ordered Danske to close its Estonian branch in 2019.

Danske Bank said on Thursday that discussions on settling the Estonia case are ongoing with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Danish special crime unit, but there was “still uncertainty that a resolution will be reached.”

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“Danske Bank is working towards a coordinated resolution before year end,” the Danish bank said but noted that “the final timing is not within Danske Bank’s control.”

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