“It is still too early to say whether we will end up bringing criminal charges, and the question of guilt or innocence is ultimately up to the courts to determine,” State prosecutor Morten Niels Jakobsen said in a press statement on Wednesday, adding that the matter had been a “very high priority internally for a long time”.
The investigation relates to transactions carried out via the bank’s Estonian branch. Last year Danish media reports claimed it was used to launder money through its non-resident portfolio from 2007 to 2015.
According to Danske Bank, the total gross income for the portfolio over this period is estimated at around 1.5 billion DKK though it is not clear how much of this has been linked to suspicious transactions.
The prosecution’s announcement comes after Danske Bank began its own investigation in September 2017 into the suspicious transactions in Estonia, directed by law firm Bruun & Hjejle. In a press release published on 18 July, it said it was too early to draw conclusions as “comprehensive investigations are still ongoing” but conclusions would be reported in September 2018.
It further said the bank should not “benefit financially from suspicious transactions that have taken place in the non-resident portfolio of the Estonian branch. Consequently, the bank intends to make the gross income from such transactions available to the benefit of society, for instance through supporting efforts to combat financial crime.”
Niels Jakobsen said: “From a general point of view money laundering offences cause great harm to our society, and the law contains strong potential sanctions if financial enterprises don’t do enough to prevent that illegally obtained money is being laundered.”