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US judge accepts Danske Bank's guilty plea as part of $2 billion deal

Danske Bank's guilty plea to a charge of conspiring in bank fraud and its agreement to pay more than $2 billion were both approved by a US judge on Thursday, putting an end to investigations into anti-money laundering failures at an Estonian branch that has since been closed.

Danske's senior general counsel was present when US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald accepted the plea during a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

According to court documents, the largest bank in Denmark paid out $2.06 billion, including $1.21 billion to the US government, $178.6 million to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and $672.3 million in fines to Danish authorities.

After revealing in September 2018 that an internal inquiry had identified roughly €200BN ($210BN) of payments made through the Estonian branch, many of which were questionable, Danske became the subject of inquiries in other countries.

According to the US Department of Justice, Danske misled US banks about its Estonian clients and its anti-money laundering measures so that high-risk clients living outside of Estonia, particularly those in the nearby Russian Federation, could access the US financial system.

According to the Justice Department, Danske Bank Estonia handled $160 billion via US institutions on behalf of nonresident clients.

The bank apologized and accepted "full responsibility for the unacceptable failures and misconduct of the past, which have no place at Danske Bank today," according to Danske Chairman Martin Blessing last month.



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