Nordea Laundering Review Handed to Police as FSA Completes Work

(Bloomberg) -- Nordea Bank Abp’s watchdog in Finland has completed its review into a complaint alleging that the biggest Nordic lender was involved in Danske Bank A/S’s $230 billion money laundering scandal.

The Financial Supervisory Authority in Helsinki has handed its assessment to Finnish police, who requested the review and will now decide on whether to proceed with a formal investigation into Nordea. The FSA said it wasn’t free to comment on its conclusions because the case relates to a supervised entity.

The review was prompted by claims made by Hermitage Capital Management co-founder Bill Browder, who alleges that Nordea allowed $234 million in suspicious flows from Russia to make its way through the bank in Finland.

Markku Koponen, head of operational risk management at the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority, said by phone that the FSA is “now working in close cooperation with the police on the case.”

Detective Superintendent Asko Vaten said Finnish police may soon be ready to decide whether to start a formal pre-trial investigation into Nordea on the back of Browder’s accusations.

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. The Finnish FSA has conducted most of Nordea’s supervisory work since the bank moved its headquarters to Helsinki in October.

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.

“The last time we provided evidence of money laundering to the Finnish police about our case in 2013 they failed to open an investigation, claiming lack of a crime. Time proved them to be wrong,” Browder said in an emailed reply to questions on Tuesday.

“The situation has now completely changed with the breadth and scale of new information,” he said. “It’s now a question of the integrity of the financial system and European security to investigate and prosecute people involved in this scandal.”

Nordea has said it’s aware of Browder’s allegations and that it’s working with the relevant authorities. The bank also points out that it has invested “heavily” to strengthen its defenses against money launderers.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.