Finnish Police to Decide on Nordea Laundering Probe Within Weeks

(Bloomberg) -- Police in Finland are closer to deciding on whether to formally investigate Nordea Bank Abp for allegedly letting dirty money flow through its Finnish branch.

The police, together with the prosecutor, will reach a decision within the coming weeks regarding a formal pre-trial investigation after U.K. investor Bill Browder in October filed a criminal complaint alleging $234 million in suspicious funds passed via the Nordic region’s biggest bank.

“So much time has passed since the complaint was filed that we will need to make a decision relatively soon,” Detective Superintendent Asko Vaten said by phone on Wednesday. “It’s getting clearer how to assess this. Bar any surprises, we should have a decision within a couple of weeks.”

Police have reviewed the case for several months, and during the process sought help from the financial regulator to assess whether Nordea’s controls against money laundering were adequate. The Financial Supervisory Authority, which has conducted most of Nordea’s supervisory work since the bank moved its headquarters to Helsinki in October, submitted its report to the National Bureau of Investigation last month.

Browder made similar filings to other Nordic prosecutors last quarter, and Swedish authorities have already decided against starting a probe, in part as the amounts alleged to have flown through Nordea’s branch there were relatively small.

Meanwhile, the laundering scandal engulfing Nordic banks has broadened. The biggest flows concern Danske Bank A/S, which is currently under investigation in several jurisdictions, including in the U.S. amid its $230 billion Estonian laundering case. More recently, Swedbank AB has also been tainted by a Baltic laundering scandal.

Nordea faced new claims last month as part of the Troika Laundromat investigation into multiple banks.

Browder was an integral part of the case against Danske Bank, and his evidence is now being used in criminal investigations against Denmark’s biggest lender.

Nordea has said it’s aware of Browder’s allegations and that it’s working with the relevant authorities. The bank has since beefed up its defenses against money launderers, it says.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.