Poor Handling of Money Laundering Risk Triggers Danish FSA Alarm

(Bloomberg) -- Denmark was “very close” earlier this year to ending up “in the worst company” amid a review of its anti-money laundering and terrorist financing efforts and more needs to be done, the country’s bank watchdog said.

Danish FSA Director General Jesper Berg said the financial industry shares responsibility for ensuring Denmark “doesn’t end up in the same situation again.” He urged banks to employ technology, for example, to strengthen their efforts to combat whitewashing, according to a a slide presentation given Monday at a conference organized by the industry group Finance Denmark.

Danske Bank A/S, the country’s biggest lender, earlier this month re-opened an investigation into its operations in Estonia amid reports that the unit was for years used to launder money via its unit in the Baltic nation. Danish police in August visited Nordea Bank AB’s Danish unit amid an ongoing investigation into violations of anti-money laundering legislation.

An August review by the Financial Action Task Force, a global organization created in 1989 to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism, criticized Denmark for not having a national policy and inadequate resources to address the problem. It urged authorities to “do more to properly assess and understand the risks it is exposed to.”

The review has triggered a response by Denmark, Berg said. That includes tightening of legal framework, including penalties, the formulation of a national policy, allocation of more resources and greater cooperation.