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Finland won't open Nordea money laundering probe, police say

UK-based financier Bill Browder, who requested the investigation, aims to appeal the decision.

Exterior of Nordea Bank in downtown Helsinki.
Exterior of Nordea Bank in downtown Helsinki. Image: Yle News / Mark B. Odom

Finland's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) announced on Tuesday that it does not plan to open a criminal investigation into money laundering claims made against the Finnish-headquartered bank Nordea.

In October last year, an American-born London financier William Browder filed a request for investigation with Finnish authorities, alleging Nordea Bank failed to prevent money laundering activities.

Browder's investment firm, Hermitage Capital Management, claimed that some 527 Nordea accounts had been involved in money laundering schemes involving more than 200 million euros in suspicious funds.

However, following a preliminary inquiry into the matter, the NBI said on Tuesday that it did not have jurisdiction in the matter since the "allegedly suspicious acts" had been committed in Estonia and Lithuania.

Browder responds

The NBI also said that the money transfers under scrutiny had mostly been made more than ten years ago.

"So the suspected criminal acts, if any, have also fallen under the statutes of limitation," the bureau said in a press release issued Tuesday.

"In respect to more recent dates given in the request for investigation, police have no reason to suspect that Nordea Bank or the account holders would have been aware any suspicious operations in the Baltic countries," the NBI stated.

The law enforcement agency said Browder's request did not reveal evidence that supported claims that Finnish recipients of the payments under scrutiny were aware that the funds were gained from "aggravated tax fraud or some other offences committed in Russia."

In response to the news, Browder said in a tweet on Tuesday that he plans to appeal the decision.

Story continues after image.

Today Finnish Police rejected our complaint about $234m of money laundering through Nordea Bank coming from Magnitsky case. They claim the money never touched Finland and was beyond the 10 year statute of limitations. Both are UNTRUE. We plan to appeal. Press statement attached.

Finnish police have said that appeals are not possible in the case. However Browder is able to submit new charges or take the case to higher authorities.

"They claim the money never touched Finland and was beyond the 10 year statute of limitations. Both are untrue. We plan to appeal," Browder wrote on Twitter.

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