Danske’s $235 billion money laundering scandal eanred the bank the dubious distinction of becoming the first company ever chosen for the annual corrupt actor of the year award from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a nonprofit investigative reporting consortium.
The bank fought off stiff competition from a record 22 other contenders to win the 2019 award. Over the past seven years, the non-profit media organization has highlighted an individual or institution that has done the most over the previous 12 months to advance organized criminal activity and corruption in the world. OCCRP co-founder and editor Drew Sullivan said, ‘Danske Bank is a worthy recipient of this prize. It highlights the role of the criminal services industry in enabling international corruption and crime.’ The ngo says the term ‘criminal services’ refers to the banks, law firms, registration agents, accountants, and others who help criminals and corrupt officials hide their assets and legitimize their operations. Mr Sullivan explained, ‘in the past 20 years, they’ve globalized organized crime and autocracy and helped everyone from Mexican drug cartels to Russian President Vladimir Putin to terrorists, autocrats, and almost every global threat.’
Mr Sullivan was one of nine judges who made the final selection, decided on nominations were submitted by journalists and the public. Past winners have mostly been individuals, including the previous winner Rodrigo Duterte and 2014 winner Vladimir Putin. The bank is only the second institution to win, the other being 2013 victor the Romanian Parliament. Other contenders this year included Putin again, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and, US President Donald Trump. The OCCRP jury opted for Danske Bank for the role its Estonian branch played in allowing billions of dollars to be laundered over the past decade. Last November, Denmark’s state prosecutor accused the bank of failing to institute risk management and control systems at its Estonian business and allege that managers in Copenhagen failed to ensure the branch’s compliance with the Danish Anti-Money Laundering Act.