Dan­ish Anti-Is­rael Mo­r­al­iz­ers in Huge Cor­rup­tion Scan­dal

Danske Bank, which boy­cotted Bank Hapoalim, El­bit and other Is­raeli con­cerns for "eth­i­cal rea­sons," caught laun­der­ing over $1 bil­lion

The Jewish Voice - - SPECIAL FEATURES - By: Dr. Man­fred Ger­sten­feld (INN)

Some­times im­por­tant news items which seem­ingly have no rel­e­vance for Is­rael re­veal sig­nif­i­cant Is­rael-re­lated in­sights upon closer in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Danske Bank, the largest bank in Den­mark, has re­cently ad­mit­ted to hav­ing been a con­duit for a gi­ant cor­rup­tion scheme by the lead­er­ship of Azer­bai­jan. Some of the doc­u­ments cov­er­ing this scan­dal be­came avail­able to the Dan­ish daily, Ber­lingske Ti­dende.

Ac­cord­ing to the Bri­tish Guardian, based on leaked data, Azer­bai­jan's lead­er­ship used the bank to fund a se­cret $2.9 bil­lion scheme to pay prom­i­nent Euro­peans through a net­work of Bri­tish com­pa­nies. The Guardian claims that be­tween 2012 and 2014 more than 16,000 covert pay­ments were trans­acted through the Danske Bank's branch in Es­to­nia. Part of this money ap­pears to have been passed on to politi­cians and jour­nal­ists in the frame­work of lob­by­ing op­er­a­tions.

At that time, Azer­bai­jan was un­der at­tack for ar­rest­ing hu­man rights ac­tivists, jour­nal­ists and con­duct­ing rigged elec­tions. The lead­ers of this oil-rich coun­try wanted to pro­mote a pos­i­tive im­age.

The scheme is nick­named ‘the Azer­bai­jan Laun­dro­mat.' Among those re­ceiv­ing pay­ments were for­mer mem­bers of the hu­man rights body, the Coun­cil of Europe's Par­lia­men­tary As­sem­bly, as well as a Board Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Bank for Re­con­struc­tion and De­vel­op­ment (EBRD). It has not been proven that all re­cip­i­ents knew the source of the money as it was dis­guised via in­ter­me­di­aries.

Danske Bank ad­mits that via its Es­to­nian branch of­fice “money laun­der­ing and other il­le­gal prac­tices took place.” The bank claims that it first no­ticed the ir­reg­u­lar pay­ments in 2014. The Es­to­nian fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tor was quoted as say­ing that "the sys­tems to stop money laun­der­ing at the Danske bank branch had failed."

While be­ing in­volved for sev­eral years in these hugely un­eth­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties Danske Bank de­cided in 2014 to add Bank Hapoalim to a list of com­pa­nies in which it could not in­vest due to its cor­po­rate ac­count­abil­ity rules.

It pub­lished that the ex­clu­sion was based on “le­gal and eth­i­cal rea­sons.” Danske Bank also stated that Bank Hapoalim was fund­ing set­tle­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and was “act­ing against the rules of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law.” Ear­lier, Danske Bank with­drew its in­vest­ments from Africa Is­rael In­vest­ments Ltd and from two other Is­raeli com­pa­nies, El­bit Sys­tems and Danya Ce­bus.

In 2016, Danske Bank with­drew its boy­cott of Bank Hapoalim. No clear rea­sons were given. Nowa­days one could as­sume that as the Dan­ish bank was it­self so un­eth­i­cal and had bro­ken laws in such a ma­jor way, ac­cus­ing oth­ers of some­thing in­com­pa­ra­bly smaller made it even more vul­ner­a­ble. This with­drawal of the boy­cott got lit­tle at­ten­tion. The dam­age had al­ready been done how­ever. The BDS move­ment knows that its ac­tiv­i­ties are al­most ir­rel­e­vant to Is­rael's econ­omy. Its main aim is to blacken Is­rael's im­age.

Ear­lier in 2017, Danske Bank had al­ready been found to be in­volved in other ma­jor cor­rup­tion scan­dals. Then Ber­lingske Ti­dende re­ported that in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the au­thor­i­ties in Latvia and Moldova had shown that large amounts of money had passed be­tween 2011 and 2014 through Danske Bank's Es­to­nian branch to tax havens in the Sey­chelles and Panama. There were claims that this money orig­i­nally came from Rus­sian or­ga­nized crime.

The over­all amount laun­dered was es­ti­mated at over 1 bil­lion dol­lars. Danske Bank's chief coun­sel ad­mit­ted in­ad­e­quate con­trol of the mat­ter.

Larse Krull of the Dan­ish Aal­borg Univer­sity was quoted as say­ing: "It con­cerns trans­ac­tions to such a de­gree that all the alarm bells should go off in the banks." Shortly be­fore this it be­came known the Dan­ish Fi­nan­cial Su­per­vi­sory author­ity, Fi­nanstil­synet, crit­i­cized Dan­ish banks' in­ad­e­quate mea­sures to coun­ter­act money laun­der­ing.

Danske Bank was not the only Dan­ish en­tity to boy­cott Is­rael. Al­ready in 2002, the Gen­eral Work­ers Union in Den­mark was among the first Euro­pean bod­ies to call for a boy­cott of Is­raeli goods. The union it­self can­celled a pre­lim­i­nary or­der for prod­ucts from the Is­raeli com­pany, Radix.

There has in the past years been fre­quent ex­po­sure of ex­treme and wide­spread Scan­di­na­vian hypocrisy to­ward Is­rael. This mainly fo­cused on Nor­way and Swe­den and in par­tic­u­lar when the so­cial demo­cratic par­ties and their al­lies con­trolled the gov­ern­ment. How­ever, the huge Danske Bank cor­rup­tion scan­dals show once again that in the ex­po­sure of ex­treme anti-Is­raeli hyp­ocrites Den­mark should not be for­got­ten.

Dr. Man­fred Ger­sten­feld has been a long-term ad­viser on strat­egy is­sues to the boards of sev­eral ma­jor multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions in Europe and North Amer­ica.He is board mem­ber and for­mer chair­man of the Jerusalem Cen­ter for Pub­lic Af­fairs and re­cip­i­ent of the LIfe­time Achieve­ment Award (2012) of the Jour­nal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

Danske Bank de­cided in 2014 to add Bank Hapoalim to a list of com­pa­nies in which it could not in­vest due to its cor­po­rate ac­count­abil­ity rules. It pub­lished that the ex­clu­sion was based on “le­gal and eth­i­cal rea­sons.” Danske Bank also stated that Bank Hapoalim was fund­ing set­tle­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and was “act­ing against the rules of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law.” Ear­lier, Danske Bank with­drew its in­vest­ments from Africa Is­rael In­vest­ments Ltd and from two other Is­raeli com­pa­nies, El­bit Sys­tems and Danya Ce­bus.

Danske Bank, the largest bank in Den­mark, has re­cently ad­mit­ted to hav­ing been a con­duit for a gi­ant cor­rup­tion scheme by the lead­er­ship of Azer­bai­jan. Some of the doc­u­ments cov­er­ing this scan­dal be­came avail­able to the Dan­ish daily, Ber­lingske Ti­dende

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