Saturday, May 15, 2021

DNB escapes punishment for role in bribery probe involving Icelandic fishing firm

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Norwegian bank DNB AS A said Friday that an investigation into its alleged involvement in handling payments from an Icelandic fishing company embroiled in a bribery probe has been dismissed.

The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, known as Okokrim, launched a probe in November 2019 following a WikiLeaks data dump and subsequent allegations made in Icelandic media.

DNB said in a statement Friday that it had been informed that the investigation hasn’t generated any information that gives grounds for criminal prosecution of individuals and the public prosecutor isn’t of the view that a corporate penalty is applicable in this case. “The case has therefore been dismissed,” DNB said.

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WikiLeaks published over 30,000 documents it called the “Fishrot Files,” which suggested that Icelandic fishing group Samherji hf had for years paid millions of dollars in bribes to Namibian officials for fishing quotas in the country’s waters.

Icelandic media then claimed that Samherji used DNB to funnel over $70 million to a shell company in the Marshall Islands, made up partially of proceeds from its Namibian activities.

Samherji had said the figure was actually $28.9 million and related to fees for crewing its vessels but didn’t disclose which bank was used for the transactions.

“The case’s dismissal confirms that these allegations had no merit,” Samherji said in a statement Friday. “Samherji is pleased with this result, as the company has always stated that the allegations regarding the transactions of Samherji affiliates with DNB were unfounded.”

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