Preliminary charges have been filed against Denmark’s biggest lender, Danske Bank, over allegations that it violated the country’s money laundering laws, according to a report by Reuters. The charges are related to the bank’s branch in Estonia.
The investigation came to light in August. The contention is that transactions worth an estimated $225 billion, from 2007 and 2016, may have been used as part of criminal money laundering.
Prosecutors are trying to determine if they can pursue charges against the bank itself or if individuals can be found culpable, General Prosecutor Morten Niels Jakobsen told Reuters in a statement on Wednesday.
“We are still working intensively with the investigation,” he said.
The bank’s shares were barely affected by the scandal, trading 0.7 percent higher in the afternoon. However, the shares had lost half of their value since March.
An economist with Nordnet, an investment company in the region, said investors have prepared for a fine in the area of $4.5 billion (30 billion Danish krones) or more.
“The possible financial consequences of a fine are relatively small in relation to the damage already inflicted and the risk of U.S. authorities entering the case,” he said.
In September, reports surfaced that the U.S. was indeed looking into the case.
There have been four charges brought so far by the state prosecutor for serious economic and international crime. They include the bank not knowing enough in regard to the Estonia branch’s non-resident customers, as well as negligence by the bank to train local workers in dealing with ways to prevent money laundering. The charges also involve the bank not integrating the Estonia branch with its risk management and control systems. The charges are aimed at both the branch and the bank’s headquarters in Copenhagen.
The bank's Chief Executive Thomas Borgen resigned from his position in September after the bank released an internal report on questionable money moving through the branch.
The news elicited a reply from Danish Business Minister Rasmus Jarlov.
“The money laundering case is very serious. It is reasonable and necessary that Danske Bank now be accountable in court,” he wrote on Twitter.