March 27, 2019 / 8:46 AM / a month ago

Denmark to bolster financial regulator after Danske scandal

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark’s financial watchdog will get more money, staff and powers under a deal agreed by lawmakers on Wednesday aimed at strengthening efforts to tackle finance crime in the wake of a money laundering scandal at the country’s biggest bank.

FILE PHOTO: Danske Bank sign is seen at the bank's Estonian branch in Tallinn, Estonia March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

However, Danish business minister Rasmus Jarlov said it could take “a good while” before the financial prosecutor is ready to open a potential court case against Danske Bank.

Denmark’s reputation as one of the least corrupt countries in the world has taken a big hit from Danske’s admission that 200 billion euros (170.77 billion pounds) of suspicious transactions flowed through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

The bank is under investigation in the United States, Denmark, Estonia, France and Britain.

Under a deal agreed by a broad majority of parties in the Danish parliament, the country’s financial supervisory authority (FSA) will get 48 million Danish crowns (5.49 million pounds) extra funding each year, Jarlov told reporters in Copenhagen.

That will allow the watchdog to double the number of people working to fight money laundering to 24, he added.

The FSA will also get the right to fine banks that violate money laundering laws, and large Danish banks will get a comprehensive money laundering inspection from the FSA during 2019, Jarlov said.

“We need a stronger and more aggressive financial regulator,” the minister said.

“Procedures around the Danske Bank case have not been satisfactory.”

Since the scandal surfaced last year, the bank has replaced its CEO and chairman, pulled out of Russia and the Baltics, boosted its compliance efforts and promised to donate 1.5 billion Danish crowns ($230 million) to fight financial fraud.

Reporting by Teis Jensen and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Toby Chopra and Mark Potter

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