In a record money laundering scandal, the Danske Bank CEO has resigned. An incredible 200 Billion Euros passed through an Estonian Danske Bank branch from 2007 to 2015. CEO Thomas Borgen left his position while saying that he did nothing wrong from a legal perspective. He did, however, admit that “Danske Bank had failed to live up to its responsibility.” Danske Bank is Denmark’s largest bank, and it has gone from being one of the most reputable lenders in Europe to the facilitators of the largest money laundering scandal in European history.
Systemic errors in a failing system
No errors were found by Borgen despite the fact that the bank was warned in 2007 that there was “criminal activity in its pure form, including money laundering [estimated at] billions of roubles monthly.” The criminal scandal has only come to light after a British whistleblower by the name of Howard Wilkinson reported his suspicions to a Danish newspaper. Wilkinson was the former head of the Baltic trading unit for Danske Bank.
Danske is not the only bank to fail on AML procedures. Earlier this month, Dutch Bank ING admitted that criminals had been able to launder money through its accounts to the tune of EUR 775 Million. Commonwealth Bank of Australia has recently been given the biggest fine in Australian corporate history (USD 534 Million) for failing to report over 53,000 suspicious transactions between 2012 and 2015. While crypto scams are on the rise and are certainly an issue, the real scams are those undertaken at the mega-corporate and banking levels.
A series of unfair standards on money laundering
The situation is getting out of hand. The FBI is actively conducting sting operations on people who trade cryptocurrency online. Meanwhile, no CEOs or bank heads go to jail for billion-dollar scandals or global economic collapses despite gross negligence or deliberate fraud. The standard for power positions should be higher when it is actually non-existent. Regardless of the scale of the disaster, high-level executives are never held accountable.
Further, the claims that bitcoin is used to aid money laundering do not add up when money laundering via banking channels far exceeds any possible levels associated with cryptocurrency. The banks themselves cannot fulfill their own AML procedures, and they have been proven to be irresponsible with loans. As it stands, somehow nobody is legally liable for the EUR 200 Billion scandal. Perhaps the FBI would be put to better use catching those responsible for EUR 200 Billion scandals as opposed to individuals with trades under EUR 50,000.
On a positive note, a free media and the actions of whistleblowers such as Wilkinson means that these issues are being brought to the public attention. These crises are paving the way for widespread cryptocurrency adoption. It is up to individuals to choose alternative means of finance of their own volition, or else history will repeat itself, and the banking scandals will continue.
Digital Nomad with an interest in Zen and Blockchain technology.
Law graduate with 3 years experience as a consultant in the capital markets industry and 4 years experience freelancing on UpWork as a Creative Writer.