Norway's DNB investigated for Namibia dirty cash

Business | 29 Nov 2019 4:29 pm

Police in Norway will investigate the country's biggest bank after it was reportedly used by an Icelandic fishing company to launder money that came partly from operations in Namibia.

The inquiry will try to determine whether DNB ASA, which is based in Oslo, committed any punishable offenses, Hedvig Moe, acting chief of the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, said in a statement late yesterday.

The shares dropped by 4.3 percent in early trading today, the most in almost seven months, and were down by 3.5 percent as of 9:11 a.m. in Oslo.

The news of an investigation into DNB comes amid a steady stream of fresh allegations of Nordic money laundering.

Danske Bank A/S and Swedbank AB are both being investigated in considerably larger cases that have drawn the attention of the U.S.

This week, Swedish state broadcaster SVT claimed that SEB AB had been used as a conduit for suspicious flows via its Estonian operations, though the bank says it was never used for any kind of “systematic” money laundering.

Icelandic media reported earlier this month that fishing company Samherji paid bribes to officials in Namibia to operate there. Samherji then used DNB to transfer over US$70 million to the Marshall Islands between 2011 and 2018, according to Stundin and other media, which said they obtained documents relating to the case via WikiLeaks.

Namibia’s former fisheries minister was arrested last week after he and the country’s justice minister earlier resigned following the reports.

DNB, in which the Norwegian government owns a 34 percent stake, said it intends to share everything it knows about the case, and that it has an important role to play in the investigation as one of Samherji’s banks.

“We take this case seriously, and are focused on getting to the bottom of it for our own instruction as well,” DNB spokesman Even Westerveld said in an email. “We can’t exclude that our own inquiries will identify points for improvement in the bank’s work.”

DNB has said it ended its relationship with two companies mentioned in Icelandic reports, following a risk assessment, but according to Stundin the bank kept Samherji as a client. DNB said on November 13 that it was looking into the allegations.

It has strengthened efforts to fight economic crime in recent years and reports more than 1,000 cases to police annually, Westerveld has said. The bank declined to comment on whether Samherji is still a client, saying it wasn’t allowed to divulge that information.


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