European banking still has a massive money laundering problem

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danske money

First it was HSBC. Then ING. Now Danske Financial institution. European banks are nonetheless uncovering cash laundering on an enormous scale.

Danske Financial institution (DNKEY), Denmark’s largest financial institution, admitted Wednesday that an inside investigation had uncovered a lot of suspicious accounts and transactions at its department in Estonia.

The financial institution mentioned the department dealt with about €200 billion ($235 billion) for round 15,000 overseas purchasers, some from Russia, between 2007 and 2015. It mentioned that the “overwhelming majority” of the 6,200 prospects it has investigated thus far had been “suspicious.”

CEO Thomas Borgen mentioned he would step down as soon as a substitute is discovered, and Denmark’s regulator mentioned it might reopen its personal investigation.

However the issue is not going to vanish with the departure of 1 government.

It is not as a result of the European Union’s anti-money laundering laws are weak. It is that they don’t seem to be very effectively enforced.

HSBC (HBCYF) agreed in 2012 to pay $1.92 billion to settle money-laundering allegations with US regulators. Authorities mentioned HSBC allowed essentially the most infamous worldwide drug cartels to launder billions of throughout borders.

The case sparked a wave of anti-money laundering campaigns and reforms the world over, together with within the European Union.

However extra instances preserve popping up. ING (ING) agreed earlier this month to pay €775 million ($900 million) to Dutch regulators after admitting poor controls allowed criminals to launder cash by way of its accounts.

Fragmented and inconsistent regulation

“There are very restricted sanctions enforced in some nations and the supervisory our bodies on the nationwide stage do not all the time do their job,” mentioned Laure Brillaud, an knowledgeable on cash laundering with Transparency Worldwide.

The principle downside: Europe doesn’t have one single group charged with stamping out the crime. The three foremost European monetary regulators mixed have simply two officers working full-time on cash laundering prevention.

The majority of accountability lies with nationwide watchdogs, and a few are simply less than the job.

“Latest instances within the banking sector confirmed that they don’t seem to be all the time supervised and enforced with the identical excessive requirements in every single place throughout the EU,” mentioned Vĕra Jourová, Europe’s high justice official. “Our system is as sturdy as our weakest hyperlink,” she added.

Due to the best way the European Union works, as soon as soiled cash enters the banking system in one among 28 nations, it may be simply moved round.

The European Fee is now proposing stronger guidelines governing the work of nationwide watchdogs.

The Fee needs EU member states to share extra info, and for regulators and banks to speak extra.

Purple flags had been ignored

Brillaud mentioned that penalties imposed on EU member states that fail to police cash laundering correctly may result in higher oversight, a step the Fee has not but taken.

Regulators in Europe and the USA have additionally been pushing banks to do a greater job at getting extra details about their purchasers and the sources of their wealth.

Jonathan Peddie, a associate at Baker & McKenzie, mentioned that banks have additionally been struggling to implement efficient controls in the case of cash laundering — particularly in the case of overseas purchasers.

“Everyone understands what the regulation says and everyone understands the attitude that they’re supposed to absorb respect to the chance … however it’s all the time been very laborious for them to satisfy the expectations,” he mentioned.

Danske Financial institution admitted Thursday that the administration of the financial institution had did not act on a number of purple flags raised by Russia’s central financial institution and regulators in Denmark and Estonia through the years.

CNNMoney (London) First revealed September 20, 2018: 12:14 PM ET

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