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Danske Bank Forfeits $2 Billion After Pleading Guilty to Fraud

By Bob Van Voris

5 janvier 2023

  • Formal sentence comes after bank entered its plea in December
  • Sentence caps Danish lender’s worst scandal in recent history

An agreement by Danske Bank A/S to pay $2 billion to end a long-running US probe into money laundering through its Estonia branch was approved by a judge, resolving criminal liability for the bank’s worst scandal in recent history.

The Danish lender pleaded guilty in December to conspiring to commit bank fraud. The bank admitted it provided services to suspicious customers, including in Russia, through its branch in the Baltic nation, despite knowing of the money laundering risks, according to the US Justice Department.

Read about the agreement here

The Copenhagen-based bank was formally sentenced Thursday by US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan, who approved an agreement between Danske Bank and US prosecutors requiring $2 billion in forfeiture. The agreement called for Danske Bank to receive credit for $672 million paid to Danish criminal authorities and $179 million paid to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, for a total additional payment of about $1.2 billion.

Danske Bank was also ordered to serve three years’ probation, to make agreed improvements to its compliance programs and to continue to cooperate with the government.

The scandal was disclosed by a whistleblower at the Estonian branch who contacted Danish news media to claim that the bank had ignored signs indicating “potentially criminal transactions” to move billions of dollars to the West from 2008 to 2017, including from Russian customers, the Justice Department said.

Danske Bank said in 2018 that it failed to adequately screen 200 billion euros ($211 billion) in nonresident cash.

The case is US v. Danske Bank A/S, 22-cr-00679, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Selected by Virginie GASTINE MENOU

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