TALLINN - The Estonian Public Prosecutor's Office brought charges on Monday in the money laundering case that took place at the Estonian branch of Danske Bank.
According to the statement of charges, Juri Kidjajev, Erik Lidmets, Jevgeni Agnevstsikov, Mihhail Murnikov, Marko Teder and Natalja Komarova jointly committed money laundering on a large-scale basis from 2007 to 2015 by intentionally concealing the real owners of the money of suspected criminal origin transferred to Danske's bank accounts in Estonia and the origin and nature of the funds, spokespeople for the prosecutor's office said.
According to the information gathered in pretrial proceedings, the accused provided money laundering services to the tune of 1,611,963,711 US dollars and 6,074,878 euros.
"Money laundering crime requires a predicate crime. It means that in order to bring charges, it first needs to be proven that the money has been obtained through crime. In pretrial proceedings, we gathered information regarding various predicate crimes in international cooperation," state prosecutor Maria Entsik said. "Eight predicate crimes committed in Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Switzerland, the United States and Iran have been included in the charges."
"In the assessment of the prosecutor's office, former employees of the international banking division of the Estonian branch of Danske Bank -- foreign customer managers -- created their own money laundering business which they concealed from other structural units of the bank. According to the charges, customers were sold legal entities hiding the real owners. The accused allegedly advised their customers on how to hide the electronic trail when making bank transfers and offered a service of preparing documents on transfers for a fee, as well as enabled transit transactions, that is transfers from person A to person B without any real economic content for the purpose of concealing the trace of the owner and origin of the money. This was professional money laundering, in the assessment of the prosecutor's office," Entsik said.
The prosecutor's office deems professional money laundering the most dangerous type of money laundering for the state. In the course thereof, money laundering services are offered to different customers enabling to systematically render criminal money legal.
During the Moneyval evaluation procedure, which ended at the start of this year, the need to pay the most attention to similar cases was highlighted.
"In this case, it has been possible to identify and seize nearly 10 million euros worth of property, which, according to the indictment version, the defendants earned by providing money laundering services," Entsik said.
The proceedings were conducted by the Central Criminal Police. The Harju County Court has yet to set a date for the preliminary hearing.