Nordic banking giant Nordea has been linked to a massive money laundering scheme involving $365 billion of illicit funds.
Nordic banking giant Nordea Bank is the second bank this month embroiled in a multi-million money laundering scandal. Nordea, which previously criticized Bitcoin for being ‘high risk’ due to ‘money laundering’, is alleged to have accepted 150 million euro in criminally sourced funds from Lithuanian and Estonian banks. Most of the illicit funds were sent to Nordea’s Danish operations, but branches in Sweden, Norway and Finland were also involved in the scheme.
“We are aware of the report, and at Nordea we work closely with the relevant authorities in the countries in which we operate, including the Nordic Financial Intelligence Units,” said the bank in a statement this Thursday. “In any cases where we deem it to be suspicious transactions, we report it to the authorities for them to take forward.”
According to Sweden’s national broadcaster SVT, the case is related to another laundering scheme involving Denmark’s Danske Bank. Earlier this month, Danske Bank was at the center of an enormous money laundering scandal and was accused of illegitimately processing more than $235 billion in payments originating from Russia.
SVT reported that the 365 bank accounts involved in the operation belong to shell companies, with some of those companies operating at banks tied to other Russian money laundering schemes. According to Swedish publication Dagens Industri, it was the Russian hedge fund Heritage Capital Management that informed the Swedish authorities about the illicit payments.
More than Crypto Market Cap
The $235 billion involved in the alleged scheme are almost $30 billion more than the total market cap of the whole crypto market.
In addition to its anti-crypto statements, Nordea has also banned all of its 31,000 employees from trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. Danske Bank has also criticized Bitcoin in the past, preventing its customers from investing in crypto due to “money laundering”.
The two Scandinavian banks are not the only institutions that have criticized Bitcoin before finding themselves in hot water. In February of this year, Rabobank, another major Dutch bank, was fined for accepting at least $369 million in illegal payments between 2009 and 2012 related to drug trafficking and other criminal activity. After the fine, Rabobank, which had previously warned against Bitcoin risks, announced plans to introduce a cryptocurrency wallet service.
In 2017, the UK National Crime Agency published a report which calculated the money laundering risks related to Bitcoin as ‘relatively low’. An additional report from the Financial Services and Treasury of Hong Kong on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment claimed organized crime rarely takes advantage of cryptocurrency for its operations.