The former head of Estonia’s financial regulator has hit out at Danish authorities for not taking concerns about Danske Bank seriously, ahead of what is thought to be history’s biggest ever money-laundering scandal.
Raul Malmstein criticised his counterparts in Denmark for not spotting the extent of the problem. Authorities have since identified around €200bn (£178bn) of suspicious payments which flowed through Danske’s Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.
“The Danish FSA [Financial Supervisory Authority] took a view that it is not a very serious problem, and the same applied to Danske’s main office in Denmark,” Malmstein told the BBC’s Today.
His comments came after the body of Aivar Rehe, the former boss of Danske in Estonia, was found on Wednesday, an apparent suicide according to reports.
Rehe was a witness in the case, but was not considered a suspect, prosecutors confirmed. He was found in his back yard after police had searched for him for two days.
Police said that there was no sign of violence on the body and they will not open an investigation.
Malmstein paid tribute to an “extremely hardworking … good-hearted and open person”.
He said his team had worked closely with several banks to clamp down on suspicious accounts, especially those connected to people in the former Soviet Union.
But Danske’s head office had played hardball, not seeing the issue as that serious. The share of foreign-owned accounts at the bank was unusually high for Estonia, he said.
“The sheer amount of money that was channelled through is staggering, and it is hard to believe that it really happened,” Malmstein said.
€200bn is enough to buy all Danske shares nearly 20 times.
Danske and the Danish FSA both declined to comment.