December 13, 2017 / 9:45 AM / a year ago

Dutch subsidiary of Russia's Alfa Bank raided in money laundering inquiry

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch subsidiary of Russia’s Alfa Bank, owned by billionaire Mikhail Fridman, was searched last week as part of an investigation into possible money laundering, the Dutch financial crimes prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Amsterdam Trade Bank (ATB) is suspected of violating anti-money laundering laws by withholding information on “unusual transactions” made by clients and failing to do adequate background checks on its clients, the prosecutor’s office, FIOD, said in a statement.

“The bank’s office has been searched and accounts were seized as part of a criminal investigation”, FIOD spokeswoman Marieke van der Molen said.

ATB said on Wednesday that a new management team since 2014 has focused on “bringing compliance and risk management standards in line with best practices”.

“The investigation focuses on a client portfolio that ceased to be part of the bank’s business some years ago,” it said in a statement. “Clearly, ATB has cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the investigation.”

ATB, part of the Alfa Bank Group, mainly provides trade financing to companies doing business in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union and had total assets worth 1.3 billion euros (1.1 billion pounds) at the end of last year, according to its most recent annual report.

The bank has come under financial stress in recent years due to the Russian economic crisis and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which damaged its creditworthiness.

The bank also became entangled in a corruption scandal in which telecom company Veon, formerly known as Vimpelcom, paid $795 million to Dutch and U.S. authorities in 2016 to settle claims of bribery in Uzbekistan.

Fridman’s investment vehicle, LetterOne, owns roughly 48 percent of Veon shares.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, accounts of ATB, amongst others, were used to pay the bribes by Vimpelcom.

Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Anthony Deutsch/Susan Fenton/Alexander Smith

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