The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against Danske Bank, a multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Denmark, for misleading investors about its anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program in its Estonian branch and failing to disclose the risks posed by the program’s significant deficiencies. Danske Bank agreed to pay $413 million to settle the SEC’s charges.
According to the SEC’s complaint, when Danske Bank acquired its Estonian branch in 2007, it knew or should have known that a substantial portion of the branch’s customers were engaging in transactions that had a high risk of involving money laundering; that its internal risk management procedures were inadequate to prevent such activity; and that its AML and Know-Your-Customer procedures were not being followed and did not comply with applicable laws and rules. The SEC alleges that, from 2009 to 2016, these high-risk customers, none of whom were residents of Estonia, utilized Danske Bank’s services to transact billions of dollars in suspicious transactions through the U.S. and other countries, generating as much as 99 percent of the Estonian branch’s profits. The complaint further alleges that, although Danske Bank knew of these high-risk transactions, it made materially misleading statements and omissions in its publicly available reports stating that it complied with its AML obligations and that it had effectively managed its AML risks. As the full extent of Danske Bank’s AML failures became apparent, its share price dropped precipitously.
Source: SEC.gov | SEC Charges Danske Bank with Fraud for Misleading Investors about Its Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Failures in Estonia