Danske Bank under investigation by DOJ over Estonia accounts

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Danske Bank (DANSKE.CO) said on Thursday that it was being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice about non-resident accounts at its Estonian branch which are at the center of a 200 billion euro ($230 billion) money laundering scandal.

The bank said in a statement it had “received requests for information from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in connection with a criminal investigation relating to the bank’s Estonian branch conducted by the DOJ,” and was cooperating.

Danske Bank also said it would end its share buyback program after reassessing its capital targets after Denmark’s Financial Services Authority said its compliance and reputational risks are higher than previously thought.

Shares in Danske Bank fell by three percent to 160 Danish crowns, their lowest level since January 2015 and a 33 percent decline so far this year.

Last month, Danske Bank said in an internal report that payments totaling 200 billion euros, many of which it described as “suspicious”, had been moved through its tiny Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

That scandal led to Danske Bank’s chief executive stepping down and prompted regulators across the European Union to question the oversight of the bloc’s financial sector.

Banks doing business in Estonia handled more than $1 trillion in cross-border flows between 2008 and 2017, the country’s central bank said on Wednesday.

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