TALLINN – The trial in the money laundering case involving the Estonian branch of Danske Bank started in Harju County Court on Monday, the Office of the Prosecutor General in spring of this year filed charges against six people, none of whom pleaded guilty.
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.
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 in the spring. "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 proceedings were conducted by the Central Criminal Police and led by the Office of the Prosecutor General.