A group of international investors managing trillions of dollars in assets has filed what it says is the first in a series of lawsuits against Danske Bank in connection with the money laundering scandal engulfing Denmark's largest lender.
The writ, filed Friday in the District Court of Copenhagen by law firm Nemeth Sigetty Advokatpartnerselskab, is for about 1.5 billion kroner ($220 million), according to a statement.
The International Securities Associations and Foundations Management Company for Damaged Danske Investors, or ISAF-Danske, represents private and institutional investors, including pension funds, insurance companies and investment managers in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, Austria, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain and Australia.
The lawsuit details how Danske Bank "violated Danish capital market laws by deliberately misleading and keeping investors in the dark for years, by not disclosing that its financial income statements and retained earnings included significant earnings from known illegal high-risk money laundering activities."
The bank's shares were little changed after the announcement and were up 0.5% as of 3:07 p.m. in Copenhagen.
Danske Bank is being investigated throughout Europe and in the U.S. after failing to screen about $220 billion that gushed through its non-resident unit in Estonia from 2007 to 2015.
The investor coalition said Friday that it was also conducting "a special investigation into the potential significant additional earnings generated at the Danske Bank headquarter level."
Such an investigation "focuses on the potential income from 'spreads' made from the (foreign-exchange) currency market making activities, associated with the more €200 million in suspicious wire transfers," it said.
Danske said it was "defending itself against these claims."
"The timing and completion of any such lawsuit is uncertain, and we consider any development together with our external counsel," it said in a statement. "At this stage, we have no further comment."