Seven years ago, Nordea’s Danish branch was reported to the police for violating money-laundering regulations. The investigation is still ongoing, and documents show that the major bank has not only had suspicious partners in totalitarian dictatorships, but has also been linked to terrorist financing and financial crime.
Danish business journal Berlingske Business has obtained confidential material from the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) that reveals “mysterious Russian customers with multi-million dollar payments from shady companies in remote tax havens, partners in undemocratic states with terrorist organizations or widespread corruption, and hundreds of warnings about money laundering and terrorist financing”.
According to the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Nordea’s failings were so serious and pervasive that it was “obvious” that the bank “could have been used for money laundering or terrorist financing”.
Among other things, Nordea is said to have largely failed to screen the bank’s “highest-risk customers” who may have had links to terrorism and financial crime – and in several cases, private customers were able to register as corporate customers.
“Strengthening our defense”
– Since 2015, Nordea has spent DKK 11 billion on strengthening our defense against financial crime, and today we have more than 3,100 employees focused on this area, Nordea Denmark’s general counsel Anders Holkmann Olsen told Berlingske, but declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
It is not clear who Nordea’s former partners with possible terrorist links are. Several experts predict that the major bank will have to pay fines in the billions of dollars.
It should be noted that Nordea and other major banks have been heavily criticized in recent years for arbitrarily banning and suspending customers on the basis of “lack of customer knowledge” – customers who are deemed unprofitable or “troublesome” for various reasons. While insignificant individuals or small businesses lose their accounts, critics argue that criminal and suspicious actors that banks consider lucrative customers are allowed to continue their banking relationships.