Danske Bank money-laundering whistleblower Howard Wilkinson has testified before the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance in Brussels.
Wilkinson, a former employee at Danske Bank’s Estonia office, uncovered a major money-laundering scandal involving around $120bn, flowing out of Russia. He claimed to have warned management at Danske Bank about the movement of illegal money as far back as 2013.
Wilkinson’s lawyer, Stephen Kohn, a partner with US-based law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, spoke after the testimony about the necessity for concerted international cooperation on money laundering, as well as the need to end corporate cultures that discourage whistleblowers from coming forward with concerns.
“Money laundering is an international crime, and needs an aggressive response from the European Union,” he said. “This illegal money laundering scheme took off in Russia, travelled through the Danske Bank in Estonia, and landed in New York.”
Kohn said that Wilkinson’s testimony proves that the laundering scheme is more than just a Danish problem, and requires a mutual response from appropriate bodies in Europe and the United States.
Kohn spoke also of the urgent need to protect whistleblowers under European law, as they are currently without official rights: “Whistleblower laws must be designed to undercut a fear to report wrongdoing, and a culture of silence that permits crimes, such as money laundering, to go undetected by law enforcement for years,” he added. “A corporate code of silence not only hampers investigations but also creates a climate where ongoing wrongdoing can occur with virtual impunity.”

by Guy Matthews
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