Dutch Financial Regulators have supported plans by Netherlands to tackle complex international money-laundering schemes together. This follows a seven-month investigation to assess the Dutch financial sector’s exposure to the scandal that engulfed Danske Bank Estonia.

In December 2019, DNB (De Nederlandsche Bank) wrapped up the investigation after reviewing the transactions of Dutch banking clients who received large incoming wires from Danske Bank Estonia from 2010 to 2018. These years overlap with the Baltic lender’s central role in moving tens of billions of dollars out of Russia and other former Soviet states.

Senior officials at DNB said that the findings of their investigation and the methods used during it could help Dutch financial institutions develop new structures for detecting and halting illicit cross-border transactions like those seen in schemes such as the Russian Laundromat. In an interview with ACAMS moneylaundering.com, Remy Jansen, head of DNB’s integrity department said “We don’t exclude the possibility that … this type of laundromat activity still goes on. We hope that what banks have learned in this exercise is not just to look back—but also whether they can more quickly identify where these risks are moving towards.”

After an internal audit found that more than €200 billion in suspiciously obtained funds, with nearly a quarter of those transactions originating from Russia, had passed into and through accounts for non-resident legal entities from 2007 to 2015, Estonian regulators ordered Danske Bank to close its local branch in February 2019.

DNB also asked several financial institutions to provide data on any clients who received funds from the Baltic lender during the eight-year period under review. 

Axel Gospodinov, a senior supervisor, told moneylaundering.com that DNB then worked the data they received down to a list of 400 clients who received the most funds from the Estonian lender. They then reviewed those accounts for several risk indicators, such as frequent incoming payments in round numbers and regular transfers in similar amounts.

“Banks obviously believe they can be more effective working together, but they also want to adopt a common approach with these investigations,” the source familiar with the matter said.

Date: 5 Mar 2020

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