November 21, 2018 / 6:58 AM / 25 days ago

EU should copy U.S. laws to prevent money laundering scandals -whistleblower' s lawyer

COPENHAGEN, Nov 21 (Reuters) - The European Union should harmonise whistleblower protection with the United States to avoid major money laundering scandals like the one in which Danske Bank is embroiled, the lawyer for the main whistleblower in the case said on Wednesday.

In the widening scandal, authorities in Denmark, Estonia, Britain and the United States are investigating payments totalling 200 billion euros ($228.5 billion) made through the tiny Estonian branch of Denmark's biggest bank from 2007-2015.

U.S. lawyer Stephen Kohn and his client Briton Howard Wilkinson, who headed Danske Bank's Baltics trading unit from 2007-2014, are to speak at a public hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday.

The U.S. tax code, which covers illegal offshore banking and money laundering, and the Dodd-Frank Act, which covers the financial services industry, publicly traded firms and most banks, are what the European Union should be looking at, Kohn said in a written response to questions from the EU lawmakers ahead of the hearing.

"These laws have been highly praised by the regulatory agencies responsible for their administration, and have resulted in significant increases in the detection and enforcement of laws prohibiting money laundering, financial crimes and tax evasion," he said.

Europe must enact effective laws that will encourage employees to report financial crimes to the appropriate authorities at the earliest possible time, he said.

"Europe cannot afford another Danske Bank money laundering scandal," he said.

Danish lawmakers pledged on Tuesday to improve legal protection for whistleblowers following a public hearing in Copenhagen on Monday.

Reporting by Teis Jensen; Editing by Nick Macfie

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