Close to 200 employees are working to prevent that money is laundered or used for terrorist financing.
Just like other Norwegian banks, DNB has a statutory duty to prevent that customers misuse the bank to launder money. In order to identify activity that may indicate such offences, close to 200 DNB employees are working to prevent money laundering.
Roar Østby has worked with anti-money laundering issues for close to 20 years and heads DNB’s anti-money laundering division, which is among the largest in the Nordic region.
“We are in contact with the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim).on a daily basis, and I have regular and annual meetings with the department head. As a bank, one of our key responsibilities in society is to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing ‒ thereby also preventing a lot of other crime," says Østby.
1.000 reports to Økokrim
In DNB, the officers in the anti-money laundering division have two different working methods: manual and automated.
The automated solutions send daily alerts to the officers from the bank's internal notification systems. These contain information about transactions, such as sender, recipient, and amount.
“When we receive such alerts, we examine the data more closely. If there is reason to suspect criminal activity, a report is prepared and sent to Økokrim,” explains Østby.
DNB sent 891 such reports in 2015. The most serious matter involved possible money laundering of NOK 45 million. In 2016, more than 1,000 reports were sent, and the figure for 2017 looks set to be even higher.
In Østby’s opinion, the increasing number of reports can be attributed to better procedures.
“It is up to the police to investigate these matters with respect to the origin of the funds, i.e. what kind of criminal activity may be behind the transaction. Our responsibility is to monitor and notify,” states Østby.
Thus, it is difficult for the bank to say which types of cases are most prevalent. Østby indicates that labour market offences and the use of foreign labour are probably high on the list.
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Knowing the customers
In order to make the automated systems even better, experience-based knowledge has been obtained from employees, and is in the process of being implemented in the internal data systems.
“The bank’s employees possess the best knowledge about transactions that deviate from the customers' "ordinary" behaviour and may be questionable," says Østby.
“We have asked DNB employees which transactions or activities usually make them react, aiming to identify repetitive patterns in matters concerning tax evasion or money laundering,” explains Østby.
He believes that the employees’ knowledge in this field is already beginning to generate results.
Three-year action plan
In the winter of 2015, DNB implemented a three-year action plan to improve efforts to counter money laundering. At the turn of the year, all the goals shall be reached.
So far, DNB has spent over 400 man-labour years and NOK 215 million to obtain new and updated information from customers.
“In this project, we are really talking about prevention. When we ensure that the information we have about our customers is one hundred per cent correct, we also make it far more difficult to hide the transactions that cannot stand the light of day," says Østby.
Wants a healthy business community
Østby explains that DNB’s role as a responsible player in Norwegian society and Norway's largest bank underlies its anti-money laundering efforts.
“A white economy is a prerequisite for all of DNB’s operations. Black money quite simply undermines the bank's own market, so there is a clear correlation between the interests of society and those of DNB," says Østby.
DNB is also working to prevent the use of money for terrorist financing and transactions involving persons or organisations on the authorities’ sanction lists.
The aim is to promote a healthy business community, both nationally and internationally.
“The fact is that much of what goes on in this country relies on money. What is most important to me, is to know that if we succeed in stopping what is wrong, prosperity will flourish in the right places, that is among those who deserve it," concludes Østby.