Denmark's new business minister talks tough on Danske Bank scandal

FILE PHOTO: A logo for Denmark's Danske Bank is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s new business minister has signaled he will take a tough line on the country’s largest lender Danske Bank, describing its admission of past failings in anti-money laundering controls in Estonia as “a disgrace and a scandal.”

Rasmus Jarlov was appointed by Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen on Thursday, after his predecessor Brian Mikkelsen stepped down for a private sector job.

“Danske Bank’s money laundering in Estonia is a disgrace and a scandal,” he said in a tweet late on Sunday.

“I do not yet have an overview of what options I have as minister but I can guarantee I will not hold my hand over them.”

Major flaws in the Danske Bank's DANSKE.CO money laundering controls in Estonia made it possible for its branch there to be used for criminal activity, and the bank reacted too slowly when it was made aware of the weaknesses, Denmark's Financial Supervisory Authority said last month.

Danske Bank has launched its own investigation into the Estonia case and will present its findings in the autumn.

The investigation has so far shown the problems in the Estonian branch were bigger than the bank first thought, chief executive Thomas Borgen said in an interview with broadcaster DR, aired late on Sunday.

Jarlov will be questioned about the authorities’ response to the case at an open meeting in the Danish parliament’s business committee later on Monday.

Danske Bank did no immediately respond to Reuters’ request for a comment.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Mark Potter