Browder Laundering Complaint Shows $97 Million Nokia Payment

(Bloomberg) -- Nokia Oyj has been identified as the biggest individual recipient of potentially illicit funds relating to money laundering allegations against Nordea Bank Abp, according to investor Bill Browder.

As much as $97.2 million that may have been laundered ended up in Nokia’s accounts at Nordea, according to a document focusing on potentially illicit transactions in Finland and sent by the U.K. financier to Bloomberg. Browder filed his complaint earlier this month to Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation and the prosecutor general.

“Nokia takes such allegations very seriously, but as we have not yet seen the claims by Mr. Browder, we cannot comment on the contents,” spokesman Brett Young said in a statement on Sunday. He said the allegations appear to be related to Nokia’s mobile-phone business, which it divested in 2014, and are thus “unrelated to our current operations.”

Browder says he has evidence that as much as $405 million was laundered through Nordea in a case he alleges is linked to the scandal engulfing Danske Bank A/S. He says the money received by Nokia came from fictitious companies with accounts at Ukio Bank, in Lithuania, that were set up to launder money and evade taxes. While the complaint didn’t specify a time frame for the transactions, they pre-date 2013, when Ukio Bank was declared bankrupt.

In general, Finnish law requires that companies abide by know-your-customer rules in trades in which amounts exceeding 10,000 euros ($11,500) change hands, said Santeri Suominen, legal adviser at the Confederation of Finnish Industries. And if companies receive payments for their goods from entities other than the buyer with which the transaction was agreed, then “companies operating carefully would check out the entity who wired the money and whether it’s a genuine third party,” he said.

Suominen also noted that anti-money laundering laws today are much stricter than they were back in 2012. Nokia wasn’t the only company named in Browder’s complaint, but its money flows were considerably bigger than those of the other firms listed.

Once known for its near-unbreakable mobile phones, Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft Corp. in 2014 and now designs and manufactures mobile network components. Just two years later, the software giant exited the smartphone business.

At its peak in 2008, Nokia sold more than 468 million handsets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That year, Russia was its fifth-biggest market with sales of more than 2 billion euros.

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