ABN Amro has reached a €480m settlement with Dutch prosecutors over anti-money laundering failings, following an investigation that has also triggered the resignation of Danske Bank’s chief executive.

ABN said on Monday that prosecutors had 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”, and that it had put in place a plan to improve its processes.

The Dutch Public Prosecution Service said that “various clients engaged in criminal activities were able to abuse bank accounts and services of ABN Amro for a long time”.

The €480m settlement is made up of a €300m fine and €180m of disgorgement, which reflects the savings the bank made from its inadequate controls. The problems occurred between 2014 and 2020.

Chief executive Robert Swaak said: “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.”

Three former ABN Amro board members have been identified as suspects in an investigation by prosecutors. One of them, Chris Vogelzang, resigned from his position as chief executive of Denmark’s Danske Bank on Monday. 

The move is an embarrassment to Danske, which brought Vogelzang in as an outsider to clean up its own money-laundering scandal, one of the largest ever uncovered.

Danske, which is under investigation by US authorities and facing a significant fine, named its chief risk officer Carsten Egeriis to replace Vogelzang.

Vogelzang said he was “surprised” by prosecutors’ decision to name him a suspect, four years after he left ABN Amro, but stressed it did not imply he would be charged. He stressed he was “comfortable with the fact that I managed my management responsibilities with integrity and dedication”.

He added: “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.”

Vogelzang took up the job as boss of Danske in June 2019, three months before ABN Amro disclosed the probe into it by Dutch public prosecutors.



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