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Danske executive bonuses at stake as bank explores all options

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Danske Bank A/S says it's exploring all avenues with a view to clawing back bonuses after the lender was embroiled in one of Europe's biggest money laundering scandals.

[COPENHAGEN] Danske Bank A/S says it's exploring all avenues with a view to clawing back bonuses after the lender was embroiled in one of Europe's biggest money laundering scandals.

The warning comes as indignation is mounting over a decision to let Chief Executive Officer Thomas Borgen leave Denmark's biggest bank with 12 months' pay after the 54-year-old failed to respond appropriately to a number of signs that dirty money was flowing through his bank.

Henriette Fenger Ellekrog, Danske's head of human resources, says the bank is "looking into claw-back possibilities." Mr Borgen's total pay in 2017 was 15.4 million, or $2.4 million, including variable cash and share-based payments of 3.7 million kroner.

"We cannot comment on expected amount, numbers or individuals, but claw back will be investigated for all relevant employees in relevant markets and in all levels of the organization," she said.

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Danske has admitted that about US$234 billion flowed through a tiny unit in Estonia between 2007 and 2015, and is treating a "large" share of that amount as "suspicious" transactions. Aside from Mr Borgen's resignation, the bank says that several employees have been reported to the police. Criminal investigations are ongoing and the government says Danske may face a US$630 million fine.

Danske, which published an internal probe into the laundering scandal last week, says it is continuing to investigate the matter after many questions were left unanswered. The scandal has unnerved investors and Danske has lost about a third of its market value this year.

Ms Ellekrog said the bank's own remuneration policy doesn't restrict its options with regard to how much can be clawed back, but pointed out that the bank needs to comply with national legislation.

"All possibilities will be investigated and where deemed relevant, we will take proper action following these investigations," ms Ellekrog said.

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