Investigators immediately concentrated on Danske as it had the most non-resident, or offshore clients whose true owners are probably unknown to everyone. Watchdogs always smell doubt and risk where there are too many non-resident clients. A control action was brought against Danske.
Transfers to Danske and other Estonian banks ended in the spring of 2014. Almost $205 million had moved through Marfin bank and Versobank (now known jointly as Versobank). Krediidipank, transfers to which started already back in 2011, was used to move a total of $165 million between then and the spring of 2014. Sums that landed in accounts of other banks were considerably smaller.
The Estonian public knew nothing of the transfers or their origins – until the financial authority made it known on July 15, 2015 that it has brought a control action against Danske concerning compliance with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing prevention measures. It was a laconic summary of everything that had really been investigated.
“The bank did not observe anti-money laundering rules, violated client identification requirements, failed to monitor legality of clients' activities. I dare say violations were extensive and systematic and happened over a long time,” head of the financial authority Kilvar Kessler says today.
Kessler cannot reveal whether the control action had anything to do with transfers from Moldova.
Nearly a month later, Danske announced the departure of its Estonian CEO Aivar Rehe. The news was unexpected. Rehe did not explain his departure until September.
The former CEO said after he left the bank that its new strategy did not fit his nature. Rehe denies his departure had anything to do with the money laundering. Only the parties involved know why Rehe really left.
Danish financial watchdog Finanstilsynet produced its final report that found shortcomings at Danske in March of 2016. The bank's Estonian branch was referred to as one source of problems. The criticism largely matched the findings of the Estonian authority.
When asked for a comment at the time, Rehe said the prescripts did not concern incidents of money laundering. That is true, as Danske's Estonian branch cannot be blamed for anything based on the information revealed about the “Laundromat” here either.
When Postimees approached Danske's Estonian branch with information regarding “Laundromat” last week, Executive Manager Ivar Pae said it is impossible for the bank to share specific information about clients or their transactions with third parties. He admitted, however, that the bank did have problems with anti-money laundering measures in the past.