DNB ASA, Norway’s largest financial services group, will pay a fine of NOK 400 million ($48.1 million) for failing to adhere to Norwegian Anti-Money Laundering Act standards.
The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (Finanstilsynet) imposed the fine following an inspection of DNB’s anti-money laundering (AML) policies and procedures. Additionally, a separate investigation was conducted into its handling of customer accounts for Icelandic fisheries company Samherji.
“The inspection revealed serious breaches in the bank’s compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering Act,” Finanstilsynet announced Monday in a press release.
DNB announced last year the fine was imminent.
The details: Finanstilsynet said it found numerous breaches of the country’s AML law in an inspection of DNB, then uncovered “many of the same serious breaches” in its investigation of Samherji.
Many of the violations uncovered were either time-barred or occurred under the former Anti-Money Laundering Act, leaving “no legal basis for imposing administrative sanctions,” Finanstilsynet said. The fine reflected only violations of Norway’s current AML law, the regulator said.
DNB said Okokrim, the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime, dropped the bank from its investigation into Samherji in February.
DNB acknowledged in a statement the bank’s “anti-money laundering efforts had not given sufficient results at the time of the inspection,” and that the regulator was correct to point out areas where the bank needed to improve its AML policies and procedures.
The bank said there were “shortcomings related to due diligence” with six companies connected to Samherji. “DNB’s anti-money laundering efforts have since been significantly intensified,” the bank said.
Compliance takeaways: DNB has imposed several new measures to improve its AML program over the past several years, including strengthening its efforts in organization, risk assessment, risk classification, and electronic monitoring, the bank said in the statement.
DNB noted the investigation into its relationship with Samherji did not uncover any complicity on DNB’s part in money laundering. And, DNB disagreed with Finanstilsynet’s assessment the bank failed to prioritize AML.
“The fight against money laundering is at the top of the Board’s agenda. Finanstilsynet is right to say that there are areas in which we need to improve, but we have also made great strides in the past few years. These efforts can be continually improved and DNB will continue to prioritize this in the years ahead,” the bank said.
Norway and Iceland are two of eight Nordic and Baltic countries that agreed in 2019 to share information about money laundering threats in order to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.
Samherji responds: For its part, Samherji said it was not a party to Finanstilsynet’s investigation of DNB and was not contacted by the regulator.
“Samherji has no knowledge of this violation penalty beyond what may be read in publicly available sources,” the company said in a statement.
Samherji has been at the center of the so-called “Fishrot scandal” that allegedly involved bribes and kickbacks paid by the company to officials in Namibia. The scandal caused two Namibian ministers to quit last year, Reuters reported, but did not result in any charges against the company or its executives.