Denmark is working on new legislation that will increase money laundering fines by about eightfold. According to Bloomberg, the new bill by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) would have money launderers pay fines according to “the gravity and circumference of the offense,” as well as their financial wealth. The government plans to take the proposal to parliament in October.
The proposal is in response to Denmark’s largest bank investigating $150 billion in transactions that may have been used by companies with ties to money laundering in Russia.
Sources said the funds flowed through a tiny branch of Danske Bank in Estonia between 2007 and 2015 and involved money from Russia, Azerbaijan and Moldova — former Soviet Union states. “It is very serious. If you look at this scandal, you can compare it to the most serious money laundering scandals in Europe. It’s a disaster for the bank,” said Jakob Dedenroth Bernhoft, a Danish expert on money laundering.
Danske Bank’s board of directors is looking into the transactions.
“Any conclusions should be drawn on the basis of verified facts and not fragmented pieces of information taken out of context,” said Danske Bank Chairman Ole Andersen in a statement. “As we have previously communicated, it is clear that the issues related to the portfolio were bigger than we had previously anticipated.”
As a result, Danske is facing pressure from the government in Denmark, which said it could confiscate any profits made, as well as investor concerns that the U.S. may join Denmark, Estonia and France in investigating the scandal.
It has also lost clients, with Unity Technologies, a video game startup that is valued at $2.6 billion, parting ways with the bank.
“Management should not just ensure that their business follows the law (as you apparently have done), but also make sure their actions can withstand the light of day. And there you have failed so seriously that we your customers need to draw the consequences and move on,” wrote Unity’s David Helgason in an open letter on Facebook.