EU Wants Bank to Drop Whistleblower’s NDA

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union is putting pressure on Danske Bank A/S to drop a non-disclosure agreement with the whistleblower behind money laundering allegations that have engulfed the lender.

Howard Wilkinson, a former employee at the Estonian unit at the heart of the Danske scandal, is due to testify to the European parliament next month, but remains bound by the terms of his NDA with Danske, according to Jeppe Kofod, a Dane who’s the spokesman for the Brussels-based assembly’s special committee on financial crime, tax evasion and tax avoidance. The hearing is set to take place on Nov. 21, he said.

“We expect Danske to relieve Wilkinson of his non-disclosure commitments,” Kofod said by phone. “We want him to tell the truth and we can’t imagine Danske would want to keep him bound by it in the hearing.”

Wilkinson told Danish newspaper Berlingske that he repeatedly tried to draw a number of suspect transactions to management’s attention while he was working at Danske. The bank has since admitted that a large part of about $230 billion that flowed through a tiny Estonian unit between 2007 and 2015 may need to be treated as suspicious. Denmark’s biggest bank is now the target of multiple criminal investigations across several jurisdictions, including the U.S., with analyst estimates for fines running as high as $7.7 billion.

The EU parliament will, among other things, try to find out what Wilkinson knows about the extent to which Danske may have violated U.S. law by potentially allowing sanctioned individuals to use the bank, according to Kofod. Wilkinson has also agreed to testify to the Danish parliament, according to newswire Ritzau.

Danske spokesman Kenni Leth said the bank has received a request from the Danish parliament to allow Wilkinson to testify. Danske expects a similar request from the European parliament, he said, declining to comment further on what the bank’s actions would be.

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The European parliament has invited Danske Chairman Ole Andersen to attend the hearing, along with representatives from Dutch lender ING Groep NV. Danske has confirmed it will participate, though the bank hasn’t specified whom it will send to represent it, Kofod said.

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