Is there corruption in the RBI

Massive price losses for Raiffeisen due to money laundering speculation

The leaked documents also mention Raiffeisen Bank International, which acted as the correspondent bank for the Lithuanian money laundering bank. The RBI share lost double digits and fell below 19 euros.

According to reports from an international research network, several billion euros are said to have reached the West from Russia via a complicated money laundering system. The trail also leads to Austrian bank accounts, as reported by the research platform "Addendum" and the news magazine "profil". On the stock exchange, the reports caused nervousness, the RBI share crashed.

"Addendum" quoted on Tuesday from an advertisement by the US investment fund Hermitage Capital, which claims to have found payments of around 967 million US dollars (853 million euros) from suspicious accounts at the Danske Bank subsidiary in Estonia and the Ukio Bankas are said to come from Lithuania. According to the advertisement, the money ended up in a total of 1,055 Austrian bank accounts with 78 banks, according to "Addendum". The largest part - around 634 million US dollars - flowed according to documents from the period 2005 to 2013 to accounts at Raiffeisen Zentralbank (RZB), which was a so-called correspondent bank of Ukio Bankas.

The Economic and Corruption Prosecutor's Office (WKStA) said on APA request that they were checking whether there was any initial suspicion. A spokeswoman confirmed that a complaint against unknown perpetrators had recently been received. A Raiffeisen spokeswoman said that the compliance department at RBI is now examining the matter on a case-by-case basis. Details could not be given due to Austrian banking secrecy. Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) told Reuters that some of these allegations had already been the subject of official investigations which had confirmed that these allegations were unfounded.

The shares of RBI on the Vienna Stock Exchange fell more than 15 percent to below 19 euros on Tuesday. This is the lowest value since January 2017. In the Netherlands, too, a magazine report on suspected money laundering at the largest Dutch bank traders depressed the share prices of ABN Amro and ING. ABN stocks fell 4.6 percent, ING fell 2.4 percent. According to the Finnish television broadcaster Yle, Nordea Bank could also be involved in the money laundering scandal. As Yle reported, the institute received suspicious payments worth around 700 million euros between 2005 and 2017. The money house did not want to comment on the report.

Danske Bank in the center

Hypo Vorarlberg also appears in a report. According to "Addendum", money from four company vehicles with accounts at the Estonian subsidiary of the Danish Danske Bank is said to have come for a luxury apartment in Vienna. In Estonia, Danske Bank is at the center of one of the largest money laundering scandals in Europe with a volume of around 200 billion euros. Hypo Vorarlberg told APA that it was unable to provide any information due to banking secrecy. "However, we are convinced that we have fulfilled the applicable legal requirements and obligations - also with regard to combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism - at all times," said a spokeswoman.

The case of the Viennese business lawyer Erich Rebasso, who was found dead in Königstetten in Lower Austria in August 2012, could also appear in a new light through the research. According to this, Rebasso is said to have acted as a money mule for Russian criminals and to have been involved in the laundering of large sums of money.

Around 190 million euros in laundered money have landed in Germany, as the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" reported on Monday, citing the leaked bank records and documents. The documents had been leaked to the research network "Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)". The documents were evaluated by a total of more than 20 media companies with the title "Troika Laundromat". In addition to "Addendum", "profil" and "SZ", the British "Guardian" and the Swiss "Tages-Anzeiger" were also involved in the research.

Millions in Putin's friend's account

Accordingly, 1.3 million bank transfers, contracts and invoices were evaluated. To a large extent, they concern the Lithuanian banks Snoras and Ukio. According to the documents, a double-digit million amount was deposited into a company account belonging to cellist Sergei Roldugin, one of the best friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Roldugin, who also appeared in the "Panama Papers", left a request from the "SZ" unanswered. The cited cases are said to have been a few years ago. It is also not the first Hermitage advert in Austria.

The research network had already made the "Russian Laundromat" case - in German the "Russian laundromat" - public in 2014. In the years 2012 to 2014, billions of euros are said to have been transported abroad from Russia. At that time, a senior manager of a Latvian bank is said to have played a central role. The affair has reached the highest circles.

In the current case, numerous contracts were concluded with other companies within a few days, the report said. However, these were revoked and compensation paid in the millions. In other cases, money was transferred to alleged mailbox companies or other bank accounts and refunded.

A Russian investment company that was taken over by a bank a few years ago is particularly involved. According to the online portal Meduza, the then head denied having done illegal business. All the rules that existed on the global financial market at the time were followed, he told journalists in Moscow at the end of February, according to the portal.

According to the report of the "Süddeutsche", a charity organization of the British heir to the throne Prince Charles, called Prince of Wales' Charities, is also affected. Prince Charles is said to have not been involved in the decision to accept the donations: a spokesman for the palace in London informed the German Press Agency that the organization was acting independently of the British heir to the throne with regard to all fundraising decisions.

A spokesman for the charity said the foundations in question adhered to appropriate guidelines and legal requirements such as anti-money laundering laws in their audit procedures. "In the case of the examples mentioned, there were no warning signs during these processes." Accusations against individual persons only arose long after their engagement had ended and could therefore not have been taken into account.

(APA / Reuters)