US opens criminal probe into Danske Bank

U.S. authorities have launched a criminal investigation into Danske Banks now closed “non-resident” portfolio in Estonia that is central to the EUs latest money laundering scandal.

Denmarks largest lender said today in a statement that it is cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice, which has requested information “in connection with a criminal investigation relating to the banks Estonian branch.”

The U.S. request comes after Danske Bank revealed in an internal report that over 6,000 “non-resident” clients had funneled some €200 billion through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015, most of which was deemed “suspicious.”

The revelations cost the lenders chief executive officer, Thomas Borgen, his job.

“We are cooperating with the authorities investigating us as a result of the case,” said Danske Banks new and interim chief executive, Jesper Nielsen. “However, it is too early to speculate on any outcome of the investigations.”

Meanwhile, Denmarks financial watchdog, Finanstilsynet, published a statement on Thursday, demanding Danske Bank increase capital buffers by “an absolute minimum” of 10 billion Danish krone (€1.3 billion) to hedge the “banks compliance and reputation risks.”

The additional capital requirement is based on a similar decision that Denmarks watchdog made on May 3, when it closed its money laundering probe into Danske Bank. That demand was 5 billion Danish krone (€670 million), but now it has doubled.

Nielsen said in a separate statement that Danske Bank would “execute the orders given” and cancel its “the present share buy-back program as of today.”

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