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2020.09.22 10:47

Lithuania in FinCEN dirty money trail: millions wired through now-bankrupt bank

Jonas Deveikis, LRT.lt2020.09.22 10:47

The FinCEN Files, the massive leaks revealing some 2 trillion US dollars in dirty money transactions worldwide, also include banks in Lithuania.

Between 2000 and 2017, several banks in Lithuania had received and transferred 29.9 and 41.1 million US dollars, respectively, in suspicious transactions.

In some 2,500 documents leaked to Buzzfeed News and other media, 171 transactions reported as suspicious feature Lithuanian banks. Forty-eight of the transactions totalling 16.6 million US dollars took place via the Snoras bank.

Read more: Lithuania's Snoras bank embezzlement case reaches court as owners hide in Russia

Snoras went bust in 2011, soon after its two owners, Vladimir Antonov and Raimondas Baranauskas, were accused of appropriating and embezzling the bank's assets. The charges against them also included laundering illegally acquired assets, fraudulent bookkeeping, abuse and document forgery. Antonov and Baranauskas initially fled to the UK and subsequently to Russia.

Forty-one suspicious transactions documented in the FinCEN Files, totalling 18.59 million US dollars, were transferred in and out of DNB which merged with Nordea in 2017 to form a new bank, Luminor.

Other banks mentioned in the leaks include SEB, Medicinos Bankas, Ūkio Bankas, and Danske Bank.

All of the suspicious transactions involved four banks operating in the US – BNY Mellon, JPMorgan Chase & Co, China Investment Corporation, and Commerzbank AG.

Read more: FinCEN leaks in Baltics: Latvia exposed as ‘high-risk jurisdiction’

Jekaterina Govina, director of supervision service at the Bank of Lithuania, said it was too early to draw concrete conclusions about the transactions in the FinCEN files.

“The initial analysis shows that the majority of the operations are around 10 years old,” she told LRT.lt. “Therefore, the revealed data should be judged according to the regulations at the time [that] are incomparable with the current requirements.”

According to Govina, regulations against money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as sanctions for ignoring them, have become much stricter in the country.

Read more: FinCEN leaks in Baltics. Unknown Riga bank that serviced one of the world’s richest men