By Teis Jensen
COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The internal whistleblower who helped reveal alleged money laundering at Danske Bank’s <DANSKE.CO> Estonian branch was Howard Wilkinson, a former head of its trading business in the Baltics, Danish newspaper Berlingske reported on Wednesday.
Berlingske, which has published a series of revelations in the developing Danske Bank scandal, said Wilkinson, a Briton who was head of the bank’s Danske Markets trading unit in the Baltics from 2007 to 2014, had confirmed his role in an email to the newspaper after he was named by Estonian media.
Danske Bank’s CEO resigned last week after an inquiry revealed that 200 billion euros (178 billion pounds) of payments, many of which the bank said were suspicious, had been moved through its Estonian branch over a period of eight years.
“I can confirm that I worked as Head of Markets in the Baltics based in Tallinn from 2007 until my last working day in April 2014, just four months after my first whistleblower report to the top management in Copenhagen,” the newspaper reported Wilkinson as saying in the email.
Reuters has been unable to contact Wilkinson, while Danske Bank declined to comment on Wednesday.
Wilkinson warned Danske Bank’s executive board in Copenhagen in 2013 and 2014 about suspicious activities at the Estonian branch, Berlingske, which said it has been in contact with him for months, reported.
In Danske Bank’s own report published last week it said the first whistleblower report was sent to its executive board, group compliance and internal auditor on Dec. 27, 2013 with the title “Whistleblowing disclosure – knowingly dealing with criminals in Estonia Branch”.
The Danish state prosecutor for financial crime, which last month started its own inquiry into Danske Bank, said it was natural for it to speak with witnesses but declined to say whether this included Wilkinson.
The Danish FSA, which has also reopened an investigation of Danske, said it could not immediately comment.
“We know the whistleblower and the person has also helped us,” a spokeswoman for the Estonian FSA said. She did not confirm the whistleblower’s name.
Danske Bank’s growing scandal led Denmark to bolster its defences against shocks to its financial system on Tuesday after a risk-assessment body said the sector’s stability could be threatened by the money laundering affair.
The case, which has triggered regulatory, political and financial shockwaves, is a risk for Denmark’s entire financial sector, the Systemic Risk Council, which monitors threats to the stability of the country’s financial system, said.
Danish lawmakers have asked the bank’s management to explain their actions at an open hearing, although it has yet to decide whether it will participate as it is not obliged to do so.
(Reporting by Teis Jensen and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; additional reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn; editing by Edmund Blair and Alexander Smith)