The UJF will no longer have its investments handled by Danske Bank, the retail bank based in Denmark that has operations across northern Europe. The union board has decided unanimously to withdraw the UJF’s investments from Danske Bank and to put the union’s asset management to competitive tender.
According to Danske Bank’s own admission, the bank allowed about €200-billion of dubious origin to flow through its Estonian branch. The bank did not meet its obligations in preventing mismanagement nor did it pay sufficient attention to possible money laundering. According to Estonia’s banking supervision authority, Danske Bank had been notified about suspected money laundering years ago but had failed to act.
Suspect money transfers were made from a number of countries, including Russia, the Baltic countries, and Cyprus. Some of the money laundered is suspected to have originated from organised criminal activities with links to people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We saw that this concerns a historically big financial and money laundering scandal where Danske Bank clearly did not act with the speed that it should have. Based on what has emerged from the case, we do not consider the bank’s supervision to be adequate,” said UJF board member and chair of the union’s financial committee, Marko Laitala.
“The union’s investment activity must be ethically sustainable. This is also what our members want to see. And that is why we demand that those who handle assets are not involved in ethically or morally dubious activities”, said UJF president Hanne Aho.
“We saw the report on this in September,” said Laitala. “Based on the information it contained as well as that from the media, it was clear that we had to respond on the matter.”
Danske Bank will remain a UJF’s retail bank for the time being, handling ordinary banking matters but not asset management. This has no implications for union members and does not require any action on their part.