May 25, 2018 / 11:09 AM / 3 months ago

Police says $13 bln of funds laundered through Estonia

TALLINN, May 25 (Reuters) - Estonian police said on Friday more than $13 billion (11 billion euros) was laundered through the small Baltic state’s banks from 2012 to 2016, with at least $7.3 billion through non-resident bank accounts.

The Baltic region has been hit with revelations of money laundering from Russia, Moldava and Azerbaijan via non-residents bank accounts which has forced banks in Estonia and neighbour Latvia to close.

The Estonian police’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) said that besides more than $6 billion laundered via Estonian banks in schemes discovered by national financial inspection agencies, a further unreported 7.3 billion euros was laundered via Estonian banks through the sale of Russian stocks and bonds.

The report said that as restrictions were imposed on the Russian financial system, Russian assets were transferred to non-residents’ accounts in Estonian banks for them to be liquidated through the Estonian financial system.

“In 2012, more than 7.3 billion euros in securities from Russia were processed through the Estonian financial system. The proceeds were transferred to dozens of jurisdictions and thousands of companies for various goods and services,” the FIU said in its annual report.

In that year, Estonia’s economy was worth just 17.9 billion euros.

The Estonian police also warned more attempts to launder funds via could be expected as more bank closures are expected in Russia in 2018.

Latvian authorities warned on Thursday that an increased flow of questionable and illegally sourced money into other EU states was expected as Baltic authorities crack down on non-residents accounts. ($1 = 0.8531 euros) (Reporting by David Mardiste Editing by Johan Ahlander and Alison Williams)

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