Estonia charges six ex-Danske Bank branch staff in money laundering case

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VILNIUS - Estonia's state prosecutor said on Monday she had charged six people with laundering at least $1.6 billion and 6 million euros ($6.58 million) at the defunct Estonian office of Danske Bank.

Its operations in Estonia became the focus of a massive money laundering scandal after it was discovered some 200 billion euros ($219.5 billion) in payments flowed through the non-resident portfolio of the tiny branch between 2007 and 2015.

Six former employees of the branch, identified only by their first names, intentionally concealed the real owners of funds of suspected criminal origin when transferring the money in accounts at Danske, state prosecutor Maria Entsik said.

The indictment referred to eight alleged crimes committed in Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Switzerland, the United States and Iran, Entsik's office said in a statement.

Danske Bank declined to comment when contacted by .

The bank pleaded guilty to bank fraud conspiracy in December, forfeiting $2 billion as part of an agreement with the United States and Denmark.

Danske, however, remains subject to a criminal investigation in France and several civil litigation claims against the bank related to the Estonia case.

($1 = 0.9112 euros)

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, additional reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen, editing by Terje Solsvik and Jason Neely)

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