By Kirstin Ridley and Simon Jessop
LONDON (Reuters) - Litigation funder IMF Bentham
IMF's European subsidiary, IMF Litigation Funding Services Limited (IMF LFS), on Tuesday alleged that Denmark's largest lender breached the Danish Securities Trading Act and EU anti money laundering rules by failing to promptly inform large, institutional investors about the true scale of the crisis.
Danske declined to comment.
Around half a dozen groups have said they are gathering shareholders to sue Danske bank over a scandal that has already cost it its CEO and chairman, triggered a raft of criminal investigations. Danske's shares have plunged 49 percent since last March, wiping around $15 billion from its market value.
"The action will seek compensation for shareholders who lost millions of euros in value as a result of perceived errors and omissions committed ... and Danske Bank's failure to disclose to the market the circumstances and magnitude of alleged unlawful activities within its Estonian branch," IMF said.
It alleged a false market was created between April 29, 2014 and Sept. 19, 2018, when Danske published an internal report that charted how its tiny Estonian branch helped funnel hundreds of billions of euros from countries such as Russia over more than eight years.
IMF declined to name any funds it had already signed up.
The claim hinges on allegations that Danske Bank had sufficient knowledge to publish an internal report into allegations of money laundering far earlier than Sept. 19, 2018 and delayed an investigation to the prejudice of its investors.
IMF's group claim is open to investors who have accrued losses after buying Danske shares between April 29, 2014 and 19 Sept. 19, 2018. IMF will fund the case on a "no win, no fee" basis and will be entitled to costs and a slice of damages recovered if the case is successful.
In the United States, where claimants with a common interest can be automatically grouped together, a New York pension fund has already filed a case against Danske and four former senior executives, seeking class-action status and damages for American depositary share holders.
($1 = 0.8787 euros)
(Additional reporting by Teis Jensen in Copenhagen; Editing by Mark Potter)