Danske Bank’s chief executive Thomas Borgen resigned on Wednesday, September 19th after an investigation revealed payments totaling $234 billion through its small Estonian branch, many of which the bank said were suspicious. Reuters reports that “the Danish bank detailed compliance and control failings amid growing calls for a European Union crackdown on financial crime after a series of money laundering scandals which have attracted the attention of U.S. authorities.”
“Even though I was personally cleared from a legal point of view, I hold the ultimate responsibility. There is no doubt that we as an organization have failed in this situation and did not live up to expectations,” Borgen, who will stay on until a new CEO is appointed, told a press conference.
It is still unsure whether Borgen’s resignation will remain an isolated case or executives at established financial institutions will now be held to a new standard of accountability regarding money laundering criminal practices. Certainly, the episode represents an important precedent and showcases the risks connected to lax anti-money laundering practices at financial institutions, having repercussions on an individual, reputational and – especially – commercial level.