ABN AMRO settles AML charges with Dutch authorities: €400 million

Rick Steves

In connection with the case, the Board of Directors of Danske Bank A/S has appointed Carsten Egeriis as Chief Executive Officer to replace Chris Vogelzang, who was named a suspect in an ABN AMRO money-laundering investigation in the Netherlands.

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ABN AMRO has accepted the settlement offer from the Dutch Public Prosecution Service in the anti-money laundering investigation in the Netherlands.

In connection with the investigation by the DPPS into ABN AMRO’s compliance with its obligations under the Dutch Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act between 2014 and 2020, ABN AMRO has agreed to pay EUR 480 million.

The bank will pay a fine of EUR 300 million which “reflects the seriousness, scope and duration of the identified shortcomings” and will pay EUR 180 million as disgorgement, which “reflects the amount of costs that ABN AMRO saved according to the DPPS”.

Robert Swaak, Chief Executive Officer at ABN AMRO, said: “This settlement marks the end of a painful and disappointing episode for ABN AMRO. The lessons we have learned from this experience drive us in our continued effort as gatekeepers to achieve a safer society and a financial system that meets the highest standards of integrity.”

The Dutch authorities have found “serious shortcomings in ABN AMRO’s processes to combat money laundering in the Netherlands, such as the client acceptance, transaction monitoring, and client exit processes (the so-called ‘Client Life Cycle’ processes) in the period between 2014 and 2020”, according to the statement. Those shortcomings allowed clients to abuse ABN AMRO accounts.

“As a bank we do not merely have a legal, but also a moral duty to do our utmost to protect the financial system against abuse by criminals. In fulfilling this duty, we aim to make a meaningful contribution to a safer society. Regretfully, I have to acknowledge that in the past we have been insufficiently successful in properly fulfilling our important role as gatekeeper. This is unacceptable and we take full responsibility for this, said ABN AMRO’s Robert Swaak.

The bank has stated it prioritized remediation and enhancement programmes in each of the business lines of the bank over the years, as well as bank-wide with respect to transaction monitoring.

Despite all of its efforts and intentions, its improvement programmes have not always had the desired effect, and that several shortcomings, some of which serious, have been identified in its ‘Client Life Cycle’ processes, according to the official statement.

“ABN AMRO decided to centralise the execution of the ‘Client Life Cycle’ processes in October of 2018. To this end, ABN AMRO set up the Detecting Financial Crime (DFC) programme and made substantial additional (financial) resources available for investments in staff, systems and processes.”

The DFC programme is progressing according to the timetable as agreed upon with DNB, and the programme is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

In connection with the case, the Board of Directors of Danske Bank A/S has appointed Carsten Egeriis as Chief Executive Officer to replace Chris Vogelzang, who was named a suspect in an ABN AMRO money-laundering investigation in the Netherlands.

Chris Vogelzang commented: “I am very surprised by the decision by the Dutch authorities. I left ABN AMRO more than four years ago and am comfortable with the fact that I managed my management responsibilities with integrity and dedication. My status as a suspect does not imply that I will be charged.

“However, given the special situation Danske Bank is in and the intense scrutiny the bank is under, particularly in relation to anti-money laundering as a consequence of the still unresolved Estonia matter, I do not want speculations about my person to get in the way of the continued development of Danske Bank. Therefore, I feel that the only right thing is for me to leave. I am very sad to leave Danske Bank, which is a great company with extremely competent people, and it has been a great honor for me to lead it.”

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