Monday, October 26, 2020

Finnish police decline to investigate money laundering complaint at Nordea

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Finnish police have declined to investigate an allegation of money laundering at Nordea made by anti-corruption campaigner Bill Browder’s Hermitage Capital, citing lack of jurisdiction and the statute of limitations.

Hermitage Capital Management Ltd requested an investigation last October into transfers of funds to corporate customer accounts at Nordea from Danske Bank’s Estonian branch and Ukio Bank in Lithuania.

“According to the Request for Investigation, allegedly suspicious acts were committed in Estonia and Lithuania, and so Finnish authorities have no jurisdiction in the matter,” the Finnish police said in a statement.

“Also, the money transfers in question were largely made more than ten years ago, so the suspected criminal acts, if any, have also fallen under the statutes of limitation,” it added.

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Nordea said on Tuesday it has always had a strict policy towards money laundering and other financial crimes.

“We have always reported to relevant authorities when we have seen something suspicious,” Sakari Wuolijoki, head of legal at Nordea Finland, said in a statement.

Browder, an investor who campaigns to expose corruption, said he planned to appeal the decision.

“They claim the money never touched Finland and was beyond the 10 year statute of limitations. Both are UNTRUE. We plan to appeal,” Browder said in a tweet.

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When reporting first-quarter results, Nordea made a 95 million euro provision for a possible fine related to alleged money laundering.

Nordea’s Nordic peers Danske and Swedbank have both been hit by money laundering scandals involving transfers through their branches in the Baltic countries in recent years.

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