Denmark to Introduce Tougher Penalties to Combat Money Laundering

Published: 22 June 2017

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Nordea Bank Buildings in Denmark (Photo: Roman Hobler, CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Sophie Balay

The Panama Papers revelations have prompted Denmark to consider introducing longer jail sentences for those committing financial crimes, authorities announced on Wednesday.

The leak of millions of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca last year showed that some 500 banks throughout the world have helped customers open offshore companies and avoid paying taxes.

 Two major banks, Danske Bank and the Danish unit of Stockholm-based Nordea, were found to have breached money laundering laws.

A cross-party majority in Danish Parliament agreed on a new legislation which seeks tougher penalties for money launderers and non-diligent bank managers.

The goal is to force managers and consultants to keep a closer eye on customers and transactions that could be linked to money laundering or financing terrorism and to deter criminals from using Danish financial system to support their illegal operations.

The new law should be adopted in Parliament by next fall and the maximum sentence for money laundering will rise from six to eight years in prison. The fines will be also lifted to be more proportionate to the amount of money illegally channeled.

The Minister of Economic and Business Affairs, Brian Mikkelsen, told broadcaster TV2 that financial employees and advisors engaged in money laundering "won’t just risk losing their jobs, they’ll face relatively long prison sentences," according to Bloomberg.

The Danish Financial Supervisory Authority will be granted the power to remove board members or management team of financial institutions or to withdraw a bank's license where they are found guilty of money laundering crimes.