Danske scandal whistleblower invited to European Parliament to testify

Danske scandal whistleblower invited to European Parliament to testify
FILE PHOTO: A logo for Denmark's Danske Bank is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo -
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By Teis Jensen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The European Parliament has invited the whistleblower who helped reveal suspected money laundering at Danske Bank to testify on Nov 21 before its special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Howard Wilkinson was a former head of Danske Bank's trading business in the Baltics, Danish newspaper Berlingske reported last week.

"Howard Wilkinson, as far as we know, has gone underground. But we have secured a communication channel for him, and will convey him the official invitation as soon as the secretariat has made it," committee spokesman Jeppe Kofod said in emailed answers to questions from Reuters.

Danske last month reported that 200 billion euros ($235 billion) of payments moved through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015 - an amount equivalent to 10 times Estonia's GDP - and that of the transactions it had analysed many appeared suspicious. [nL8N1W51FB]

The Danish bank faces criminal investigations in Denmark and Estonia and Britain's National Crime Agency said it is examining the use of UK-registered companies related to suspected money laundering at Danske.

Briton Wilkinson is not obliged to accept the European Parliament's invitation. Normally such a hearing would be public and livestreamed, committee spokesman Kofod said.

"I fully understand his concerns about reprisals. Therefore, I am also open for his testimony to be delivered in a way that is safe and secure for him," Kofod said.

The hearing would allow committee members to pinpoint exactly where Danske and the Danish and Estonian financial watchdogs failed, he said.

"That would allow us as legislators to tighten up the relevant EU legislation and strengthen the supervision of the banks and national supervisory authorities so that we hope in the future to avoid the range of huge money laundering scandals that have hit Europe recently," Kofod said.

Wilkinson's lawyer, who is based in the United States, has not responded to Reuters requests for comment on the invitation.

(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Jason Neely)

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