September 25, 2018 / 9:24 AM / 21 days ago

Danes lose trust in Danske Bank over money laundering scandal

* Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2xCOCls

* Graphic: tmsnrt.rs/2xAmj7g

By Teis Jensen

COPENHAGEN, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Public confidence in Denmark’s largest lender Danske Bank has plummeted as the extent of its Estonian money laundering case has become clearer, figures from polling firm Voxmeter showed on Tuesday.

The bank’s CEO resigned last week after an inquiry revealed payments totalling 200 billion euros ($235 billion) had been moved through its small Estonian branch over a period of eight years, many of which the bank said were suspicious.

The percentage of Danes who find the bank credible fell to 46 percent last week, by far the lowest level since recordings began in 2008, and much lower than peers Jyske Bank and Nordea at 80 percent and 64 percent respectively.

The steep drop began in the spring of this year after confidence in the bank had been above 70 percent for more than two years prior to that. Voxmeter surveys 39,000 people a year about banks’ credibility

The new figures show that the bank’s image crisis is worse than the one it had in 2013 following a much criticised advertising campaign that used symbols linked to the anti-establishment movement Occupy Wall Street.

It is also worse than in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis when the Danish government had to give a guarantee to the bank’s dollar creditors when international loan markets froze.

“This new case is being seen as a breach of trust by customers, and trust is a strong driver for a bank’s business,” the chief executive of Voxmeter Christian Stjer told Reuters.

The percentage of Danes who say they would never dream of becoming customers in Danske Bank has risen to 45 percent from 31.5 percent, the latest figures from Voxmeter showed.

That is markedly above the less than 30 percent who say they would never become customers in Nordea, whose credibility was dented by its involvement in the Panama Papers scandal in 2016.

Weakening investor confidence in the bank linked to the money laundering case could hurt the bank’s credit rating, DBRS said on Tuesday.

Denmark’s conservative business minister Rasmus Jarlov is due to be quizzed by left-wing politicians about the authorities’ handling of the case at an open meeting in the parliament’s business committee on Tuesday.

($1 = 0.8503 euros)

Additional reporting and graphics by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Alexander Smith

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