Marko Kairjak comments on the New Asset-Freeze and Forfeiture Power proposed by Estonian officials

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Marko Kairjak, Partner and Head of Banking and Finance at TGS Baltic, comments on the asset-seizure power proposed by the Estonian officials in the light of the money-laundering scandal that engulfed the Estonian branch of Danske Bank.

Estonian officials will soon pitch legislation that would give investigators as long as 12 months to review suspicious transactions and seize funds absent proof of legitimate income.

Partner Marko Kairjak said the asset-seizure power could help financial institutions manage risks stemming from their relationships with certain clients.

“Currently, the asset-freeze order lapses and the banks treat it as if the FIU had no suspicions, accounts are temporarily frozen and afterwards things can carry on,” said Kairjak. “This will obviously help with the detection of money-laundering issues, so it will take some pressure off the banks in terms of the overall management of risk.”

Whether banks will see multimillion-euro administrative fines for AML violations remains unclear, however, Kairjak said, adding that Estonian officials will most likely pursue criminal penalties of up to €16 million in response to the most serious infractions.

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