Danske Bank CEO resigns after being named suspect in Dutch investigation into ABN Amro

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Danish bank Danske chief executive resigned on Monday after Dutch authorities named him a suspect in an investigation into money laundering regulatory violations at lender ABN Amro.

Chris Vogelzang, who held some senior positions at Amsterdam-based ABN Amro between 2000 and 2017, said he was very surprised by the Dutch authorities’ decision, adding that his status as a suspect did not imply that he would be charged.

“However, given the special situation Danske Bank finds itself in and the scrutiny of the bank … I don’t want speculation about myself to hinder Danske Bank’s continued development,” Vogelzang said.

Vogelzang took over as CEO of Danske Bank in June 2019 with a mission to lead Danske in one of the world’s biggest money laundering scandals, which involved € 200 billion ($ 239 billion) in suspicious transactions. transiting through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

He was tasked with restoring investor and client confidence in the lender, which is still under investigation by Danish, US, Estonian and French authorities.

Separately, Dutch bank ABN Amro said on Monday it had reached a settlement of 480 million euros ($ 574 million) with prosecutors in the Netherlands over money laundering allegations, which will have an impact on its first quarter results.

“It is very unfortunate that this is linked to money laundering again. It is almost embarrassing,” Jyske Bank analyst Anders Haulund Vollesen told Reuters that Vogelzang had been named a suspect and resigned.

However, Vogelzang has made progress in cleaning up Danske Bank and the lender is starting to implement its 2023 plan to improve the business and reduce costs, Vollesen said.

“He has succeeded, but he fails to see the fruits of his labor.”

Danske shares were down 1.2% in early morning trading.

Danske chairman Karsten Dybvad said the lender was very sorry to see Vogelzang leave.

“He was instrumental in launching Danske Bank’s ongoing transformation and the progress and results it has already created,” Dybvad added.

Carsten Egeriis, Danske’s chief risk officer for the past four years, will take over as chief executive, effective immediately, Danske said.

Gerrit Zalm, member of the board of directors of Danske, former boss of Vogelzang at ABN Amro, has also resigned, the bank also announced on Monday.

(1 USD = 0.8358 euros)

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Pravin Char)

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