Estonian finmin: Extra funds, manpower to be allocated for anti-money laundering efforts

  • 2020-09-22
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonia will allocate additional funds and manpower for its anti-money laundering efforts and for the purpose of rendering the activities of the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Police and Border Guard Board more efficient, according to Minister of Finance Martin Helme.

Helme on Tuesday met with US lawyer and former FBI chief Louis Freeh and the law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan team advising Estonian government bodies in money laundering cases in the United States, spokespeople for the Ministry of Finance said. 

"The Estonian state has zero tolerance for money laundering as it can severely affect our economy and security. Dirty money laundered through Estonia can be used to attack our interests by financing terrorism or activities that undermine our national interests," Helme said.

"Estonia's reputation has been damaged in past money laundering cases. Institutions of various states have launched investigations into breaches of anti-money laundering requirements at banks that have operated in Estonia or their branches. It is important that these past episodes should be thoroughly investigated," Helme said.

Topics discussed at the meeting also included the structure of Estonia's anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws and institutional framework. The Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan team was given an overview of the basis of national risk assessment, which is currently in the pipeline and aims to improve the management of money laundering and terrorist financing risks in Estonia.

"The Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan team began active work this summer, and among other things we have signed a confidentiality agreement with the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority and will soon also sign one with the Office of the Prosecutor General," Louis J. Freeh said.

"We will support the Estonian government in its negotiations with US authorities. The ultimate goal of our work is to ensure that the financial institutions that broke the rules for preventing money laundering should be held accountable for their actions and that the immense financial and reputational damage Estonia has suffered should be compensated," Freeh added.

Freeh Sporkin &Sullivan will provide the Estonian government with legal advice and representation in cases of money laundering relating to Nordic banks and their Estonian and Baltic subsidiaries and branches, and concerning billions of US dollars' worth of funds having been transferred in violation of local and international law as well as Estonian regulatory rules.

In addition to supporting the Estonian government in the financial investigation of alleged money laundering, the law firm will also represent the Estonian government in relations with US banking authorities, Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, New York State Department of Financial Services and other law enforcement and regulatory agencies in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and other states.