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Estonia to seek compensation from U.S. authorities following money laundering scandal

By Elizabeth Hearst

The Estonian Finance Minister, Martin Helme has said that the country should receive a share of any fines imposed by the United States, if banks are found guilty of money laundering in the country as reported by Reuters

U.S authorities are conducting an investigation into Danske, Denmark’s largest bank after it was forced out of Estonia following their admission that 200 billion euros ($226 billion) in suspicious payments had been made through its Estonian branch. 

In a statement, Mr. Helme said: “The reputation of the Estonian state has suffered greatly in several international money laundering cases in recent years.”

“As a country, we are the victims of this process,” he added. 

Furthermore if penalties were to be levied, then Estonia would  “want to participate as a state in the distribution of fines”. 

These money laundering allegations follow an investigation by the United States, which focuses on money flows in Estonia, used as a bridge between Russia and Europe. 

Swedbank and SEB, both market leaders in Estonia have been fined by Swedish authorities after it emerged that there were significant short-comings in their anti-money laundering controls in the Baltic states. 

In March, Swedbank issued a statement after an internal investigation found transactions totalling $4.8 million. These transactions potentially violated US sanctions, and as such Swedbank said they would report this to the U.S. authorities.