Denmark to revamp financial watchdog in wake of Danske Bank scandal: minister

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

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark plans to strengthen its financial regulator to make it better able to fight money laundering, its business minister said on Thursday, as the country's largest bank, Danske Bank DANSKE.CO, is embroiled in a major scandal.

The scandal involves 200 billion euros ($230 billion) in payments through Danske’s Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015, many of which the bank said in a report last month it thinks are suspicious.

The scandal has led the bank’s former chief executive Thomas Borgen to resign and almost halved Danske Bank share price since February.

“Obviously, supervision must be strengthened and conducted in a different way than it has been done in the period 2007-2015 when we can see that Europe’s largest money laundering case was not detected,” conservative minister Rasmus Jarlov said on Facebook early on Thursday.

He said that a profound evaluation of the Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) had begun and that it would include inputs from the FSA itself as well as from other stakeholders.

“It is a great task, and it must be done thoroughly,” the minister said.

The FSA’s handling of the Danske Bank case has been widely criticized, and the European Union’s banking supervisor has begun an inquiry into it.

Jarlov said it was crucial that the FSA be given tools to scrutinize the information it gets from banks more thoroughly.

“It seems that supervision largely has been based on the banks’ own assessments of how they themselves think they are combating money laundering. That is obviously not enough,” he said.

Reporting by Teis Jensen