October 2, 2018 / 8:31 AM / 8 months ago

'Good chance' Danske whistleblower will testify in European Parliament - lawyer

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The whistleblower who helped reveal suspected money laundering at Danske Bank (DANSKE.CO) will consider an invitation from an EU parliament committee, his lawyer said on Tuesday, adding there is a “good chance” he will attend a hearing next month.

FILE PHOTO: A logo for Denmark's Danske Bank is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

The European Parliament said on Tuesday it would invite the whistleblower to testify on Nov. 21 before its special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Last week, Danish newspaper Berlingske named the whistleblower as Howard Wilkinson, a former head of Danske Bank’s trading business in the Baltics.

Danske reported last month that 200 billion euros (181.1 billion pounds) of payments moved through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015 - an amount equivalent to 10 times Estonia’s GDP. It said many of the transactions it had analysed appeared suspicious.

Wilkinson’s lawyer Stephen Kohn of U.S.-based Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto said he had not yet received the invitation. Wilkinson is not obliged to accept the European Parliament’s invitation.

“There is a good chance he will attend the hearing,” Kohn told Reuters, adding that terms would have to be agreed with Danske Bank.

Wilkinson, a Briton, signed a non-disclosure agreement with the bank when he left in 2014.

The Danish bank faces criminal investigations in Denmark and Estonia and Britain’s National Crime Agency said it was examining the use of UK-registered companies related to suspected money laundering at Danske.

Wilkinson is not obliged to accept the European Parliament’s invitation. Normally such a hearing would be public and broadcast live, committee spokesman Jeppe Kofod told Reuters.

“I fully understand his concerns about reprisals. Therefore, I am also open for his testimony to be delivered in a way that is safe and secure for him,” Kofod said.

The hearing would allow committee members to pinpoint exactly where Danske and the Danish and Estonian financial watchdogs failed, he said.

“That would allow us as legislators to tighten up the relevant EU legislation and strengthen the supervision of the banks and national supervisory authorities so that we hope in the future to avoid the range of huge money laundering scandals that have hit Europe recently,” Kofod said.

Editing by Jason Neely and Edmund Blair

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