The whistleblower who revealed the massive $200 Billion money laundering scheme from Russia through the Danish Bank Danske Bank is Howard Wilkinson, head of markets at Danske in Estonia from 2006 to 2014, according to press reports. He apparently warned manages as early as 2013 that the bank had breached numerous regulatory requirements and had a near total process failure. The bank did not begin its own investigation until 2017.
Danske Bank’s CEO resigned last week after an inquiry revealed that 200 billion euros ($235 billion) of payments, many of which the bank said were suspicious, had been moved through its Estonian branch over a period of eight years.“I can confirm that I worked as Head of Markets in the Baltics based in Tallinn from 2007 until my last working day in April 2014, just four months after my first whistleblower report to the top management in Copenhagen,” a newspaper reported Wilkinson as saying.
The case, which has triggered regulatory, political and financial shockwaves, is a risk for Denmark’s entire financial sector, the Systemic Risk Council, which monitors threats to the stability of the country’s financial system, said.
Danish lawmakers have asked the bank’s management to explain their actions at an open hearing, although it has yet to decide whether it will participate as it is not obliged to do so.
Two years ago, a whistleblower complaint filed with the SEC had identified Deutsche Bank and Citigroup as additional banks involved with the transactions that had flowed through the Estonian branch. Of those two banks, Deutsche had been handling wire transfers, acting as a correspondent bank. As for Citi, The WSJ reported, that bank’s Moscow office was connected to some transactions as well. Danske has its own investigation in place focused on the Estonian branch, and a report is slated to debut next week that details findings on money laundering. It is not known whether the SEC complaint was filed by Mr. Wilkinson.
The investigation, by the U.S. Justice Department, the Treasury Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, is related to transactions at the Estonian branch over multiple years through 2015. The WSJ had previously reported the bank was looking at $150 billion of money flowing through accounts of non-Estonians at that branch.