Denmark to tighten rules for bank bosses as Danske Bank hits image

Danske Bank logo is seen in Copenhagen
The Danske Bank logo is seen in Copenhagen, Denmark September 25, 2018. Ritzau Scanpix/Mads Claus Rasmussen via REUTERS

January 22, 2019

By Teis Jensen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Danish financial firms risk problems getting financing and risk capital abroad if there is a repeat of the Danske Bank money laundering scandal, the country’s financial regulator said, as lawmakers sought to toughen liability rules for managers.

Denmark’s reputation for being “one of the least corrupt countries in the world” has suffered “great damage” from the Danske Bank <DANSKE.CO> affair, the Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) said in a risk assessment on Tuesday.

Danske Bank is being investigated in Denmark, Estonia, Britain and the United States over 200 billion euros ($227 billion) of suspicious payments through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

“A repetition may have consequences for the ability of Danish financial companies to obtain financing and risk capital abroad and enter into other financial transactions with foreign counterparties,” the FSA said.

Danish lawmakers are now looking for ways to tighten the liability rules for people managing the country’s banks following the Danske Bank revelations and a Supreme Court ruling in another bank scandal last week.

The court ruled that the small Capinordic Bank, which collapsed in 2010, had not been run in a way that could justify its management being liable for losses on several loan commitments, but only in a few cases.

In the Danske Bank case, former chief executive Thomas Borgen quit in September and has since set up his own management consultancy firm.

“People are very frustrated that bank managers walk from their offices with enormous golden handshakes, brush the dust off their suits and then start all over again,” Morten Bodskov of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, said.

His party and the Socialist People’s Party have proposed tougher liability rules for bank managers than for others.

“This is an issue we will have to look further into,” conservative business minister Rasmus Jarlov said in a text response to Reuters, adding he would take stock of the court ruling and assess if legislation should be changed.

Jarlov initiated an overhaul of financial regulation in October, prompted by the Danske Bank case, inviting input from foreign anti money laundering experts and others.

The lawmakers will also look at boosting the powers, resources and cooperation of the financial regulator, the financial crime prosecutor and the tax authorities, Social Democrat Bodskov said.

Danske Bank declined to comment.

($1 = 0.8808 euros)

(Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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