We will never be able to guarantee that suspicious transactions cannot take place. Financial crime, including money laundering, is a major global challenge, as criminals seek to exploit weaknesses in the financial system every single day. The banking community is doing a great deal, but the criminals and the networks that they are part of are becoming more and more sophisticated and are always trying to circumvent our systems and controls.
Today, the situation is quite different when it comes to the combating of money laundering than it was when the case developed in Estonia. We have rectified the situation in Estonia and have ensured, among other things, that the portfolio in question was closed down. In recent years, we have scaled down our activities in Estonia and the other Baltic countries as part of our strategy to focus on our Nordic core markets.
On 19 February 2019, the Estonian supervisory authorities ordered us to close down our banking activities in Estonia. We have of course agreed to do so, and will begin the close-down as soon as possible. We have in fact decided to close down all of our banking activities also in Latvia, Lithuania and Russia.
Across the Group, we have strengthened our efforts to combat financial crime, including money laundering, significantly and have invested considerably in improving all three lines of defence (business, compliance and audit). Thus, more than 1,200 employees today work in this area.
We have initiated a comprehensive AML programme, which has led to new organisational structures and new routines and procedures, and all employees take yearly mandatory training on anti-money laundering measures and compliance.
We also invest in automating business procedures and upgrading the IT systems that support those procedures and improve anti-money laundering controls – among other things through better monitoring of bank transfers and suspicious customers. We are also improving the “know-your-customer” procedures used when welcoming new customers to Danske Bank. This gives us a far better overview and better monitoring of our customer’s activities.
Most recently, in connection with the publication of our annual report in February, we have announced setting aside another DKK 2 billion in coming years to invest in improving both the quality and the effectiveness of our controls in the area, including by integrating control routines as part of the way in which we service our customers and create a good customer experience.
It is a key priority for us to strengthen and improve our efforts on an ongoing basis – and cooperate closely with authorities and others to achieve as strong a defence as possible against the criminal networks.