Bank Behind World's Largest Money Laundering Scandal Offered Russians Gold Bars To Hide Their Fortune

When we last looked at Danske Bank, the Danish lender was at the center of what has been dubbed the world's largest, $220 billion money-laundering scandal that allegedly involved Russians transferring funds offshore in violation of European regulations (it also involved the chronically criminal Deutsche Bank). Then, two months ago, the scandal took a lethal turn when the CEO of the bank's Estonia branch was found dead in a still-unexplained suicide. Now, we learn of yet another bizarre twist in what some have dubbed the biggest dirty money scandal of all time: the Danish lender was offering gold bars to wealthy clients to help them keep their fortunes hidden.

According to Bloomberg, the bank’s Estonian branch - whose CEO committed suicide - which was already wiring billions of client dollars to offshore accounts, told a select group of mostly Russian customers some time around 2012, that they could now also convert their money into gold bars and coins.

So for those asking the benefits of holding money in physical gold instead of fiat (or crypto), here is the answer: aside from offering a hedge against risk, Danske presented gold as a way for clients to achieve “anonymity,” according to the documents. More importantly, the bank said that using gold ensured "portability" of assets, according to an internal presentation dated June 2012.

As one would expect, the gold/money-laundering service did not come cheap: Danske charged a fee of 0.5% on larger orders, while smaller orders had a commission of as much as 4%.

This is the first time we learn that Danske offered such "services" - in the bank's own report on its non-resident unit, the bank listed the services it provided to clients. Aside from payments, these included setting up foreign-exchange lines, as well as bond and securities trading. The bank didn’t list the sale of gold bars.

While it’s not known how much gold Danske managed to sell while the now defunct Estonian unit was still running, an internal email seen by Bloomberg revealed that at least some clients used the service. Local private banking clients were also offered the service.

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