Raiffeisen is stalked by spectre of Danske

Russian President Vladimir Putin MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV  AFP  Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV AFP Getty Images

The revelations of a massive money-laundering operation linking Russian money to Western companies and financial institutions is widening to include more European banks. Much of the information about their possible involvement was made available to media outfits by The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, or OCCRP. With investigations under way in Baltic members of the European Union that once were Soviet states, the Nordic countries, the USA, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, it may be months before the full extent is uncovered. The lender is being investigated by the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as by authorities in Denmark, Estonia, the United Kingdom and France. RBI complies with all anti-money laundering requirements.

Hermitage urged prosecutors to investigate US$967 million of suspicious transactions into Austrian bank accounts according to documents seen by OCCRP.

Several big banks were used by Troika for the operation. The bank said it's started an investigation into the matter.

Worst hit were shares of Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International, following a report that Hermitage Fund, founded by British financier Bill Browder, had filed a report with Austrian prosecutors alleging that Raiffeisen's predecessor, RZB, had helped launder monies linked to tax fraud in Russian Federation.

Still, the new revelations and prior reports paint a picture of Nordic banks that, often via their Baltic units, became hubs for Russian criminals who channelled funds to the West. Nordea Bank allegedly handled about €700 million ($1.1 billion) in potentially dirty money, some of it linked to the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, according to Finnish broadcaster YLE on Monday.

The new Laundromat leaks show how Troika Dialog built a sophisticated web of companies, mainly offshore, to facilitate illicit flows. The newspaper said the accounts were registered under five letterbox companies, always with the same executives.

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Britain's RBS has declined comment on specific transactions but said it took allegations of money laundering "seriously".

- Deutsche Bank: More than US$889 million went from accounts at Deutsche Bank to those of the so-called "Troika Laundromat" between 2003 and 2017, according to German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung-part of the OCCRP journalist group.

A new project has uncovered what it says is a R127 billion alleged money laundering operation with links to corrupt politicians and Russia's largest private investment bank, Troika Dialog.

- Raiffeisen Bank International: The Austrian bank that's among the biggest foreign lenders in Russian Federation is the main target of a filing by the Hermitage Fund, detailing US$634 million allegedly transferred to it from Lithuania's Ukio Bankas and from the Estonian unit of Danske Bank. Hermitage said the bank ignored signs that should have triggered money-laundering prevention measures.

A spokeswoman pointed to past allegations by Hermitage that had been found by authorities to be baseless.

Accounts at the three largest Dutch banks were used by the Troika Laundromat to move cash from Russian Federation, according to Dutch magazine De Groene Amsterdammer, which is part of the OCCRP journalist group. All assets, data and clients of the unit became the legal responsibility of RBS in February 2008, ABN said. It is believed almost $5bn was laundered through the Troika Laundromat, which includes connections to the Magnitsky affair. They were reported by a number of participating media outlets and nicknamed Troika Laundromat because numerous shell companies involved in the transactions allegedly had ties to Troika Dialog, a Russian investment bank that was bought by state-owned Sberbank PJSC in 2012.

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