Danske Bank’s whistleblower is lashing out at British company structures, calling it “a disgrace.”
“The role of the United Kingdom is an absolute disgrace. Limited liability partnerships and Scottish liability partnerships have been abused for absolutely years,” Howard Wilkinson told European Union lawmakers, according to Reuters.
Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, is being investigated over what has been termed “massive money laundering flows” from Russia and several former Soviet states. The agencies probing the alleged incident include the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of the Treasury and the DOJ. The probes are ongoing and relate to transactions tied to the bank’s Estonian branch — and focus on $150 million that made its way through accounts of non-Estonian holders.
Wilkinson’s comments come as Deutsche Bank admitted that it played a secondary role as a correspondent bank in the scandal, helping to process up to $150 billion in suspicious payments. Its Chief Regulatory Officer Sylvie Matherat said that the bank acted once it noticed suspicious transactions.
And last week, Wilkinson’s lawyer warned that investigators should look into whether major Western banks were involved.
“It looks like the tip of the iceberg,” said Stephen Kohn. “The problem is far bigger than has been reported … If this is properly investigated, and the money followed all the way to the end — it all went to large, multinational Western financial institutions, and either the U.S. government or other authorities have the ability to track down every transfer and any account.”
Wilkinson, a British former head of markets in Danske’s Estonian branch until 2014, helped reveal how the non-resident money flowed through the tiny branch between 2007 and 2015. In addition to his criticism of U.K. business structures, Wilkinson also called on EU lawmakers to ban non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that prevent former employees from speaking out over illegal actions.
“I took the view that the right thing to do was to take his (a senior executive’s) word for it and take the money,” he said when asked why he had signed an NDA with Danske Bank.