The changes in the priorities of caused by coronavirus may cause delay of banks that are to face criminal investigations. Money laundering revelations have exposed obvious failures in internal controls of some banks across Europe. Danske Bank is at the center of the revelations as it was involved in €200 billion dirty money sham in the Baltics. The U.S. Department of Justice has also launched an investigation against Deutsche Bank AG for also involving in the Baltics scandal. The U.K.’s FCA is also probing HSBC PLC’s compliance with the country’s money-laundering regulations. Swedish financial watchdog has already been prompted to postpone the investigation on anti-money-laundering failures at Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB due to coronavirus outbreak.
Authorities in the U.S. have fined banks globally, a situation that makes some agencies to adapt to the new working conditions. But the pandemic could mean that government agencies, will have to deal with a sudden increase in insider trading. Danske Bank faced a preliminary charge in 2018 for violating Danish AML Act, however, everything has remained silent about the investigations. Jakob Dedenroth Bernhoft, a Denmark-based lawyer, a specialist in compliance and money-laundering issues expressed his disappointment at the pace of the case.
Delays could become a problem for banks facing investigations, said Hui at Baker McKenzie. “Quite often with these banks, they don’t like the uncertainty of an investigation. And although they don’t want a fine, in some ways, they just want to rip off the band-aid and get to the end,” he said. Money-laundering scandals in the Nordics have cost several senior executives their jobs, including Thomas Borgen and Birgitte Bonnesen, the former CEOs of Danske Bank and Swedbank AB (publ), respectively.