Sunday, April 18, 2021

Belgium’s KBC Bank faces money-laundering charges


KBC Group N.V. (KBC.BT) said Thursday that it has been summoned by authorities in Belgium to face charges of alleged involvement in money laundering, the latest in a wave of accusations against European banks.

The Belgian lender said the charges are a result of investigations by the Ghent public prosecutor’s office into alleged tax fraud and money laundering by a number of related clients.

“KBC is convinced that it has not committed any crime and will mount a comprehensive defense at trial,” the bank said.

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While KBC didn’t identify the clients involved or give any detail on the scale of the allegations, it said the investigation concerns the repatriation of foreign assets to Belgium since 2005. KBC said it assessed the file at the time and concluded there was no suspicion of money laundering.

Recent years have seen a string of investigations into potential money laundering at European banks and a crackdown by regulators.

A number of Nordic banks have been caught up in the investigation into how $230 billion flowed through Danske Bank A/S’s (DANSKE.KO) Estonian branch from Russia and other former Soviet states. Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG (DBK.XE) also faces investigations into alleged risky transactions involving Russia and other countries.

Elsewhere in Europe, Dutch lender ING Groep N.V. (INGA.AE) paid a $900 million fine last year after admitting criminals were able to use its accounts for money laundering and Switzerland’s Credit Suisse Group AG CS, +2.56% was criticized for lax controls by regulators.

The wave of scandals has led to calls for a single European agency to counter money laundering on the continent, with national regulators currently having primary responsibility for tackling the issue. Brussels think tank Bruegel released a paper last year proposing a single European Union anti-money-laundering authority to break the “weak links” in some EU countries.

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