Bankers face prison as Denmark gets tough on money laundering

Bankers face prison as Denmark gets tough on money laundering
Danish authorities are to tighten anti-money laundering laws following the recent revelations in the so-called Panama Papers. The proposal is longer prison sentences for individuals involved in financial crimes.

The Panama Papers investigation last year uncovered that around 500 banks worldwide might have aided tax evasion by helping customers create offshore companies in tax havens.

Governments have since tightened the requirements for lenders to report cross-border transactions as part of a stepped-up effort to curb money laundering.

“We will not accept this in Denmark,” Business Minister Brian Mikkelsen told broadcaster TV2, after reaching an agreement with representatives of the governing coalition and the opposition.

He added that Denmark’s Justice Department will make sure finance industry employees involved in money laundering “won’t just risk losing their jobs, they’ll face relatively long prison sentences.”

According to the Ministry, the new law aims to raise the maximum penalty for money laundering to eight years in jail from the current six years. It also seeks to increase fines and gives the financial regulator greater scope to cancel banking licenses for repeat offenders.

Under the new plan, bank managers will be required to stop money laundering. Board members overseeing companies caught breaching the law will also face punishment if they fail to intervene.

The biggest banks operating in Denmark, including Danske Bank and the Danish unit of Nordea Bank, have also been warned by regulators to prevent everything from money laundering to giving bad advice to clients.

Sweden's Nordea Bank was named among those involved in the Panama Papers scandal said last July it had blocked 68 suspicious bank accounts after the investigation.