Two whole years before it started closing accounts that now appear to have been used to launder $233 billion in mostly Russian money, hedge fund manager Bill Browder had a hot tip for French prosecutors: Danske Bank was laundering lots of Russian money, including some of the $230 million Russia says Browder skipped out on in taxes but which Browder says Vladimir Putin’s henchmen stole for themselves, and that some of that money had made its way to France by way of Danske. Perhaps because they suspected that Browder has something of an ax to grind, or because they didn’t want to upset Vladimir Putin, the French didn’t get around to actually doing anything about it until 2017, when it finally leveled criminal money-laundering charges against the bank. A couple of months later, though, they decided that might be taking things a bit too far, and reclassified Danske as a mere “assisted witness,” whatever that means.
Unfortunately for France, a few months after that it became pretty clear that Danske was way more than just an “assisted witness,” whatever it is, and had in fact known something was amiss right around the time Browder was making his case in 2013, and also couldn’t count very well. What’s more, with the Danes and Brits and Estonians and Americans all having a look-see, and with $6 billion in fines being bandied about, the French—again, with Browder’s help—are getting back in the Danske-bashing game.
The bank said it received a letter this month from a French investigating judge summoning Danske back for an interview. The judge expects to place the bank back under formal investigation, with the French probe expanding in scope, the bank said, citing the letter….
The potential resumption of charges against Danske comes a day after Hermitage Capital Management co-founder Bill Browder held a press conference at the Danish parliament concerning allegations he brought to France against the bank…. Mr. Browder submitted a request in late December for Danske Bank to be elevated back to a suspect in the case, he said in an interview Friday.