July 7, 2024
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Denmark's Biggest Money Laundering Case: Nordea Accused of €3.5bn Scheme

Nordea Bank faces charges in Denmark for alleged money laundering of €3.5 billion for Russian clients between 2012-2015, with the bank denying the allegations and anticipating a fine.
Denmark's Biggest Money Laundering Case: Nordea Accused of €3.5bn Scheme
Jorge Láscar - CC BY 2.0

Scandinavian banking giant Nordea has been accused by Danish authorities of laundering an estimated €3.5 billion on behalf of Russian clients between 2012 and 2015, marking one of the most substantial money laundering investigations in the nation's history.

The charges, announced by Danish police, allege that Nordea disregarded warnings and failed to adequately investigate suspicious transactions originating from Russian customers. The alleged activities primarily occurred through the bank's Copenhagen branch.

Nordea, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, refutes the accusations but has already set aside €95 million in 2019 as a provision for a potential fine.

The investigation into Nordea's alleged transgressions commenced in 2016 after the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority filed a report with law enforcement. In 2019, just before the case was scheduled for court, authorities received further evidence of deficiencies in the bank's monitoring of Russian clients' transactions, leading to a renewed investigative effort.

This case is not the first instance of money laundering allegations plaguing the Scandinavian banking sector. In 2018, Danske Bank faced scrutiny over its Estonian subsidiary's involvement in facilitating illicit funds from foreign criminals, resulting in a $2 billion fine.

Nordea anticipates a fine in Denmark for "weak anti-money laundering processes in the past" and asserts that the provisions it has made are "sufficient." The timeline for the court proceedings remains uncertain, with Nordea acknowledging that legal processes tend to be protracted.

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