Danske Bank says other lenders involved in scandal

Danske Bank's new elected Chairman of the Board, Karsten Dybvad, is pictured after a crisis meeting on December 7, 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo credit should read CLAUS BECH/AFP/Getty Images)

It seems increasingly clear that Danske Bank was far from alone in its involvement in one of the world’s biggest money-laundering scandals.

Karsten Dybvad, the chairman of Denmark’s largest lender, says he hopes the €270bn dirty money saga that has engulfed Danske doesn’t end up being even bigger.

“But we can see in other banks that there are indications that others are involved,” he said in an interview in Copenhagen. “So we’ll have to see.”

In the Nordic region, allegations of money laundering have also hit Swedbank and Nordea Bank. Bill Browder, the Hermitage Capital Management co-founder who has brought criminal charges against all three banks, says the Danske case may represent just a quarter of the total illicit flows from Russia into the West.

Mr Dybvad says there are still unanswered questions as to where the dirty money ended up. “We’ll see what will happen in the future about that.”

Danske, which faced shareholders for its AGM on Monday, is still dealing with the fallout of its money laundering case.

The bank is the target of criminal investigations in the US and across Europe, and has purged large chunks of its upper ranks in response to the scandal. Mr Dybvad started in December after his predecessor, Ole Andersen, stepped down amid a public backlash against the bank. Among those also to be removed last year was the chief executive Thomas Borgen. He’s been replaced on an interim basis, but the bank is still struggling to find a long-term successor.

Half a year after Mr Borgen’s exit, Mr Dybvad said he doesn’t want to set any deadline on how long the process might take. “You have to find the right one and it takes time. So, I can assure you that I am working together with the rest of the board intensively to find the right CEO.”

Mr Dybvad also indicated that the bank doesn’t have that many options when it comes to finding the right candidate to be Danske’s CEO.

“The pool is not very big. So we have to be, of course, careful in our search. The qualifications needed are quite high and we don’t want any skeletons, so there are a lot of different issues coming up.”

Danske’s management and board are trying to restore confidence in the bank as it faces criminal investigations over claims that it became a central causeway in Europe for former Soviet money launderers to channel their funds into the West until as recently as 2015.

Investors are now bracing for fines potentially in the billions of dollars.


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