The head of one of Denmark’s big pension funds is demanding the CEO of Danske Bank, who has announced his resignation, leave immediately rather than stay on until a replacement is found—due to the money-laundering scandal that caused his exit.
CEO Thomas Borgen tendered his resignation last week, the same day the $548.7 billion organization published an internal report on a yearlong money laundering scandal at its Estonian branch. When he announced his departure, Borgen took responsibility, admitting that his bank possibly helped launder most of the €200 billion ($235 billion) in one of Europe’s worst such scandals.
Following Borgen’s announcement, Danske said it would allow him to keep his job until a new chief takes over.
This did not sit well with Jens Munch Holst, chief executive of the $17.9 billion MP Pension, which invests on behalf of Denmark’s public colleges and schools.
“We have confidence that Danske Bank will safeguard itself as well as possible against money laundering in the future… But we don’t understand how the director Thomas Borgen can still turn up at Danske Bank,” he told IPE.com.
“He must stop immediately,” Holst continued. “Anything else is incomprehensible and unsatisfactory.”
MP Pension holds about $94.5 million in Danske Bank shares, but has “quarantined” the company since July due to the scandal. That means the fund can’t currently add to holdings in Danske. Nevertheless, Holst stressed that the bank and its other areas of business are run well, and that divestment would not be a good move as Danske Bank “is important for the whole of Danish society.”
Last year, Danske began investigating its Estonian branch amid suspicions that several billion kroner were laundered between 2007 and 2015. The report found possible collusion between staff and customers on questionable transactions involving some 15,000 customers, a non-residential portfolio, and about €200 billion worth of payments. The bank found the latter to be the most suspicious element.
“There is no doubt that the problems related to the Estonian branch were much bigger than anticipated when we initiated the investigations,” Danske Bank said in a statement regarding the investigation. “The findings of the investigations point to some very unacceptable and unpleasant matters at our Estonian branch, and they also point to the fact that a number of controls at the Group level were inadequate in relation to Estonia.”
Sources close to the Bank told Danish news outlet Finans it is “close” to replacing Borgen, hinting that a candidate was awaiting board approval.