ABN Amro reaches millions settlement in money laundering cases, Zalm leaves Danske Bank

August 2, 2021 by No Comments

ABN Amro has reached a settlement with the Public Prosecution Service in an investigation into involvement in money laundering. The bank has to pay 480 million euros because of “years of structural violation of the law”, the Public Prosecution Service wrote on Monday. According to the court, the bank has done too little to prevent money laundering. The bank should have known that money from certain account holders had a criminal origin.

The Public Prosecution Service has also started a criminal investigation into three former directors who were on the board of directors during the period when the bank allegedly fell short. One of them is former State Secretary for Economic Affairs Joop Wijn (CDA), sources report NRC. The other two are former finance minister Gerrit Zalm (VVD) and Chris Vogelzang. The Danske Bank, where the two men now worked, announced this.

In connection with the investigation, Zalm and Vogelzang will resign from their positions at Denmark’s leading financial institution. Wijn currently works as a supervisory director at Schiphol and insurer ASR. The latter has Financial Newspaper let him know that he can stay.

Vogelzang says he is “very surprised” by the decision of the Dutch authorities. “I left ABN AMRO more than four years ago and I am confident that I have carried out my management responsibilities with integrity and dedication.” He is succeeded by the Danish Carsten Egeriis.

‘Painful chapter’

“With this we close a painful and disappointing chapter in the history of ABN Amro,” said bank chief Robert Swaak in a response to the settlement. He calls it “unacceptable” that the bank has “failed insufficiently in the past to properly perform the important role of gatekeeper”. The bank says it has already let thousands of customers go since 2019, for whom the risk of abuse was relatively high.

Outgoing minister Wopke Hoekstra (Finance, CDA) calls the conclusions of the Public Prosecution Service “very painful”. “ABN Amro has seriously failed to prevent money laundering,” he writes. The minister says he will enter into talks with the bank, De Nederlandsche Bank and the NLFI “about the consequences of this”. The NLFI is a foundation that manages shares of ABN Amro and De Volksbank on behalf of the state.

It is not the first time that a large bank settles for millions with the Public Prosecution Service because of a money laundering investigation. In 2018, ING had to pay 775 million euros in a similar case. That bank was also charged that it missed ‘potential money laundering signals’, and that customers could use ING accounts undisturbed for criminal activities.

WBHoekstra Wopke HoekstraABN AMRO has seriously failed to prevent money laundering. The conclusions of @Het_OM are clear and very painful. @ABNAMRO acknowledges these errors and continues to improve. I will discuss the consequences of this with the bank, @DNB_NL and NLFI.19 april 2021 @ 06:03

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