October 23, 2018 / 9:37 AM / a month ago

Danish minister demands answers on Danske Bank disclosures

FILE PHOTO: General view of the Danske Bank building in Copenhagen, Denmark, September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen/File Photo

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) needs to establish whether Danske Bank (DANSKE.CO) intentionally misled it over possible money laundering at its Estonian branch, the country’s business minister Rasmus Jarlov said on Tuesday.

Danske is embroiled in a scandal involving 200 billion euros ($230 billion) in payments through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015, many of which Denmark’s biggest bank said in a report last month it thinks are suspicious.

“It’s one thing if they have not known themselves what happened in the Estonian branch, but if they deliberately have held back grave information, then it goes from being serious to being deeply serious,” Jarlov told a meeting of the Danish parliament’s business committee.

“This is what the FSA is investigating now,” Jarlov said, adding that this would shed light on who was liable.

If the FSA finds Danske deliberately gave wrong information then it would hand the case over to Denmark’s state prosecutor for financial crime, Jarlov told Reuters.

Danske, which declined to comment, said this month that it had “received requests for information from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with a criminal investigation relating to the bank’s Estonian branch”.

Jarlov said Danish authorities were in contact with their U.S. counterparts, adding that he was not allowed to elaborate further on their dialogue.

Some investors are worried that the United States could hit Danske, whose battered shares were down 2 percent to 128 Danish crowns on Tuesday, with fines totalling billions of dollars.

Jarlov told the parliamentary meeting that both the Danish and Estonian regulators should have reacted sooner to the money laundering allegations.

Editing by Susan Fenton and Alexander Smith

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