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U.S. could face difficulties sanctioning Danske over money-laundering: report

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – U.S. authorities could face difficulties fining Danske Bank <DANSKE.CO> over its involvement in suspected money-laundering in Estonia, according to a report by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The report, quoting anonymous sources, including a former U.S. Justice Department attorney, said the fine could be significantly lower than expected because Danske does not have a banking license in the United States.

“Everyone is talking about this big U.S. fine. I don’t see it,” the former attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told S&P.

Danske Bank declined to comment, but said it was cooperating with all relevant authorities.

Danske is currently being investigated by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Fines from U.S. authorities tend to worry investors, because they are usually much larger than those of European counterparts.

Shares in Danske have lost more than half of their value since money-laundering allegations and the threat of a hefty fine gained pace in 2018.

Danske shares were up 5.5% in early trade, which analysts said could reflect a delayed reaction to the report published on Wednesday.

“I think this is the first time we have seen in an actual article that legal experts are saying this,” said Jyske Bank analyst Anders Haulund Vollesen.

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; additional reporting by Tommy Lund; editing by Jason Neely)

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