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UK company structures allow money laundering, warns Danske whistleblower

Staff Writer |
Danske Bank whistleblower Howard Wilkinson has taken aim at British company structures for hiding the identity of those behind money laundering activities.

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Wilkinson, who brought to light an alleged €200bn money laundering scandal involving Danske Bank, said his former employer and others had abused limited liability partnerships and Scottish liability partnerships (SLPs) "for years".

"The role of the United Kingdom is an absolute disgrace. Limited liability partnerships and Scottish liability partnerships have been abused for absolutely years," said Wilkinson, who headed up Danske's Baltic trading unit from 2007 to 2014.

Research has indicated that limited liability partnerships in the UK have been exploited in complex money laundering schemes, including one which used 100 SLPs to move up to $80bn out of Russia.

Earlier this year the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy launched a consultation on proposals to close loopholes in the law regarding the schemes in Scotland and the rest of the UK, following a review.

Research by Bellingcat and Transparency International found almost three-quarters of all SLPs registered in one year were controlled by anonymous companies based in secrecy jurisdictions, like Belize, Seychelles and Dominica.

Deutsche Bank has admitted to playing only a minor role as a correspondent bank, limiting its need-to-know about those behind the transactions.

The German bank's chief regulatory officer Sylvie Matherat said it acted as soon as it noticed suspicious transactions, but did not discuss the volume of the alleged payments.

Payments made through the tiny Estonian branch of Denmark's biggest bank between 2007 and 2015 triggered investigations by authorities in Denmark, Estonia, Britain and the United States.

The National Crime Agency has launched a probe into the use of UK-registered companies in connection with the widening scandal, which has already led to the ousting of Danske's chief executive and chairman.

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