Howard Wilkinson, the mysterious former employee of Danske Bank who uncovered $234 BILLION in money laundering, will be featured on “60 Minutes” this Sunday at 7:00 p.m. ET on CBS. This is his first major statement made in the U.S. Wilkinson discovered the scheme while working for the bank’s branch in Tallinn Estonia. He is represented by Kohn, Kohn & Colaptino. Wilkinson’s job was to run the market trading side of the bank for the Baltic region. A colleague asked him for some help getting information about a customer registered in the United Kingdom as Lantana Trade LLP. He checked the firm’s assets and income on the British business registry. When he did so, Lantana was listed as dormant. However, he saw by looking at their account at the bank, transactions worth multiple millions of dollars a day. As this is considered the largest money laundering scheme ever uncovered, there has been intense interest in it. Given the players involved including various persons in Russia, the story is expected to be the basis of a major Hollywood film.
For his part, Wilkinson, a British citizen, did not wish to have his name become public. The suspicious payments flowing through the bank came from Russia through Danske to the West. Wilkinson was dragged into the spotlight after an Estonian newspaper published his name in September.
In a press release following the leak of Mr. Wilkinson’s identity, his counsel Stephen Kohn, made the following statement:
“The multi-billion-dollar money laundering scheme from Russia to Western banks was first revealed by Mr. Wilkinson five years ago. His identity had remained strictly confidential throughout this time. On September 26, 2018, his identity was illegally revealed and no less than four employees of Danske Bank discussed his employment relationship with the Bank without Mr. Wilkinson’s knowledge or consent. Many of these disclosures to the press were not accurate. This breach of confidentiality sends a chilling effect to all whistleblowers that have the courage and ethics of Mr. Wilkinson. We request the Danish and Estonian authorities to take immediate corrective action and publicly commit to fully protecting Mr. Wilkinson from retaliation.”
He told shocked European and Danish lawmakers last week that at least 10 banks, including large U.S. and European lenders, funneled money through Danske in Estonia, Lithuania and Denmark to the U.S. and out into the financial system between 2007 and 2015. Denmark’s largest bank published a report in September that detailed its own compliance and control failings and now faces investigations in Denmark, Estonia, Britain and the United States.
On October 23, 2018, The Wall Street Journal ran a feature that detailed Wilkinson’s story. How One Stubborn Banker Exposed a $200 Billion Russian Money-Laundering Scandal.
On November 19, 2018, Wilkinson testified before the Danish Parliament. During Mr. Wilkinson’s remarks, he expressed his dismay at Denmark’s lack of whistleblower protections which prevented him from reporting banking irregularities to law enforcement after the bank refused to act on his internal reports.
“Sometimes the alarm goes off when there is a fire in the basement, which no one sees,” Mr. Wilkinson said at the hearing before Denmark’s Parliament on Monday. “There was a big smoke alarm that started. But they tried actively to turn off the smoke alarm.”
“A UK company with a registered office in North London with an account in an Estonian bank that’s actually run by Russians and the partners, the owners, are from the Seychelles and the Marshall Islands,” says Wilkinson.
Eventually, after colleagues told him that Lantana had been asked to take their business elsewhere because of connections to the FSB, the Russian security service, and also to Igor Putin, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cousin, he informed officials at the bank of his concerns about Lantana. .
Steve Kohn, Wilkinson’s lawyer, says the large multinational banks that facilitated the transactions deserve scrutiny as well. “The moment you’re doing money laundering in large amounts of money, billions, hundreds of millions, you need the big banks. And the big banks are under strict regulations… very strict rules to stop money laundering.”