Friday, October 30, 2020

Romanian banks under investigation for money laundering linked to Danske Bank

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Romania’s National Bank (BNR) is probing 16 – 17 banks involved in a “rather awkward transaction” related to money laundering, Nicolae Cinteză, the head of the central bank’s supervisory department, announced on Wednesday, in a financial conference.

“At least one of the banks is involved in favoring money laundering,” he stated, quoted by Hotnews.ro, mentioning that money involved in the Danske Bank money laundering scandal passed through that bank.

Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) initiated criminal investigations in this case, he added.

As regards the specific “awkward” operations of the bank singled out, Cinteza said that the operations involved only one branch and “there is sufficient evidence of criminal deeds”.

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The frauds were external (meaning the money and beneficiaries have foreign origin) but the requirements related to the identification of final beneficiaries of transactions have not been observed by Romanian banks, he explained.

“Money involved in the Danske Bank [money laundering] scandal also passed through banks in Romania. One of them operated pretty large flows, it was discovered and sanctioned by BNR, but the employees there did not rush to close [the accounts]. This bank’s actions are now the subject of a file sent to the Prosecutor’s Office for investigation. As for the other two banks, which operated smaller flows, one closed the suspicious accounts after six months and the other one month after the opening,” the BNR official explained.

The Danske Bank money laundering scandal broke in 2017-2018 and involved EUR 200 bln of suspicious transactions that flowed from Estonian, Russian, Latvian and other sources through the Estonia-based bank branch of the Danish group Danske Bank from 2007 to 2015.

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