10 detained in Estonia over massive money laundering


HELSINKI (AP) — Ten former employees of the Estonian branch of Danske Bank have been detained in connection with a probe into a major money laundering scandal that allegedly involved money from Russia and former Soviet states.

Estonian Prosecutor General Lavly Perling said Wednesday the employees were mainly Danske Bank client managers suspected of knowingly assisting large-scale money laundering that involved Azerbaijan and Georgia, two former Soviet republics.

One of the persons is suspected also of taking bribes, another of abetting bribes.

“These people were mostly customer relationship managers whose job it was to notify of money laundering cases, to prevent them,” Perling told a news conference.

All ten are suspected of knowingly helping Danske Bank customers to transfer dirty money. Personal assets in excess of one million euros obtained through criminal activity have been confiscated from the suspects by court order.

White House Interns Send Demand Letter to Biden: 'We Will No Longer Remain Silent'

Perling said the investigation into the case — part of a wider one into Danske Bank’s Estonia branch — was launched in November 2017 and involves transactions up to 300 million of euros ($342 million).

She didn’t rule out that the number of suspects would be widened at a later stage of the investigation.

Wednesday’s case deals with two separate criminal schemes that allegedly took place between 2011 and 2013. One dealt with financial fraud in Georgia and another with tax fraud in Azerbaijan, Prosecutor Marek Vahing said.

Aivar Alavere, director of Estonia’s Central Criminal Police, identified one of the suspects as Juri Kidjajev, the former head of private and foreign banking unit at Danske Bank’s Estonian branch.

Kidjajev could not immediately be reached for comment but Estonian news portal Delfi reported he has recently been fired from his current employer, Citadele, a Latvian bank operating throughout the Baltics.

Former Danske Bank Estonia CEO Aivar Rehe and corporate banking head Tonu Vanajuur are not among the suspects but their past work activities are being carefully scrutinized, Vahing told Estonian newspaper Postimees.

The Estonian prosecutors’ office said information provided by Kremlin critic Bill Browder, the CEO of investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, has been helpful in the investigation. Estonian media said most of the ten suspects were singled out in Browder’s material.

The Danish bank admitted in September that some 200 billion euros ($227 billion) had flown through accounts at its Estonian branch from 2007 to 2015, following reports of transfers, including from family members of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Estonia was primarily a transit country in this money laundering scheme,” Alavere said. “The suspects enabled criminal money laundering but obviously were not the main beneficiaries.”

Presidential Elections of 1944 and 2024 Have Staggering Similarities

Separate major investigations have been launched in Denmark and Estonia, leading to a major shake-up at the Danish bank, including the resignation of Danske Bank’s CEO.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City