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Danske Bank Money-Laundering Scandal Spreads To Britain

The Copenhagen-based bank estimated the total flows in the Estonian unit at about 200 billion euros, nine times Estonia's 2017 gross domestic product.

A money-laundering scandal at Denmark's Danske Bank has spread to Britain as the National Crime Agency (NCA) says it's investigating the use of the U.K.-registered companies.

"The NCA is aware of the use of U.K.-registered companies in this case and has related ongoing operational activity," a spokeswoman said on September 21.

It comes one day after Denmark's financial watchdog relaunched its money-laundering investigation into Danske, the country's largest lender. On September 19, Danske Chief Executive Thomas Borgen resigned over the scandal.

Separately, an internal report into allegations that billions of euros in laundered money from Russia and other former Soviet states flowed through the bank's branch in Tallinn said that "the vast majority" of transactions between 2007 and 2015 were found to be "suspicious."

The Copenhagen-based bank said it was unable to provide "an accurate estimate of the amount of suspicious transactions made by nonresident customers in Estonia," but it estimated the total flows in the Estonian unit at about 200 billion euros ($234 billion), nine times Estonia's 2017 gross domestic product.

Citing people with knowledge of the British probe, the Financial Times reported on September 21 that NCA's interest was on a U.K.-registered limited-liability partnership (LLP).

U.K. corporate entities were the second-biggest group, after Russians, among the some 15,000 nonresident customers at the Estonian branch, the report said.

European Union Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager described the case as a "giga-scandal" as she joined a growing chorus of calls for a clampdown on the billions of euros alleged to have been "washed" through European banks.

Danske Bank's already battered shares fell by more than 2 percent on the latest developments in the case.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP