Tuesday

13th Nov 2018

Nordic region's top bank in new Russia funds complaint

  • Nordea bank's Stockholm building (Photo: Jorge Lascar)

Nordea bank, the Nordic region's largest lender, handled $175m (€150m) of suspicious Russian money linked to the death of anti-corruption activist Sergei Magnitsky, according to a complaint.

The money flowed through 365 accounts at Nordea's branches in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, the complaint, filed by Magnitsky's former employer, Bill Browder, in all four Nordic jurisdictions, said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 'Any decent due diligence would have caught this stuff', Bill Browder said (Photo: actualitte.com)

It flowed in "substantial" chunks from firms in Estonia and Lithuania which conducted no known business and which ought to have set off anti-money laundering alarm bells, he added.

"Any decent due diligence would have caught this stuff ... There's strong suspicion of money laundering there based on this information, and we're asking law enforcement to investigate," Browder told the Bloomberg news agency.

"Every time you pull on some strings to open a case, it leads us to other potential perpetrators," he told the Financial Times, after having uncovered the new Nordea information via ongoing cases into the Magnitsky affair in France and Lithuania.

Browder used to run a hedge fund in Russia, but has spent the past 10 years campaigning for tougher Western sanctions in Magnitsky's name.

He has also uncovered illicit Russian funds in Austria, Cyprus, Germany, and the UK related to a $230m Russian fraud perpetrated by a group of corrupt officials and mafia enforcers with links to the highest level of the Kremlin.

The Nordea complaint comes after Browder showed Danish lender Danske Bank had handled illicit Russian money.

The Danske Bank case blew up into the biggest money-laundering scandal in EU history when the bank admitted to having handled up to €200bn of suspicious Russia money.

It also prompted the European Commission to seek new anti-money laundering powers for the European Banking Authority, an EU agency.

For its part, Nordea, which has its HQ in Helsinki, said during recent years it had "invested heavily in strengthening its resources to counter money-laundering and other forms of financial crime across all countries where we operate."

"To combat financial crime, it's part of our daily operations to continuously review customer activity. In any cases where we deem it to be suspicious transactions, we report it to the authorities for them to take forward," it also said.

"It's clear there was something deeply bent going on inside Danske Bank," Browder told Bloomberg.

"We don't know enough yet to make any conclusions about Nordea, which is one of the reasons" for asking prosecutors to open cases, he said.

Investigation

Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?

Five years and €10bn after its EU bailout, Cyprus is a weak link in Europe's banking system - amid renewed fears on Russia money-laundering.

Estonia joins US in passing Magnitsky law

Estonia has voted to ban entry to foreigners deemed guilty of human rights abuses in a law targeting Russia and inspired by the Magnitsky case.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

News in Brief

  1. Draft Brexit deal on London cabinet agenda on Wednesday
  2. EU proposes no visa for UK citizens after Brexit
  3. EU parliament 'deeply concerned' on Romania judiciary
  4. Macedonia's ex-PM flees to Hungary, seeks asylum
  5. Cyprus opens first new border crossings in eight years
  6. Putin's Austrian dance partner cancels Moscow visit
  7. Political deadlock over Sweden Democrat influence
  8. Court: Catalan referendum organisers must repay costs

Opinion

EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name

Sergei Magnitsky gave his life to fighting corruption. The least we can do is to honour his sacrifice in the name of the legislation that his heroism inspired.

Opinion

All Quiet on the Eastern Front?

Russia is trying to foment a clash between Hungary and Ukraine over the territory of Zakarpattia in a potential crisis overlooked by EU leaders.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  2. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  3. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  4. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey
  5. Romanian leaders trade jibes over upcoming EU presidency
  6. EU warns Romania not to abuse GDPR against press
  7. EU 'Magnitsky Act' must bear its proper name
  8. Fear of nationalist surge marks European memorials

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us