Kobenhavns Andelskasse (a/k/a Copenhagen Cooperative Fund or KBH Andelskasse), a small Danish regulated bank, collected and transferred hundreds of millions of stolen money to boiler room scammers in 2017 and 2018 after it got hijacked by scammers.
To date, EFRI represents more than 1.100 European consumers who have been ripped off by investment scams, stealing about 55 Mio of their life savings. The harm done to hundreds of thousands of European consumers –( mainly older people) – during the past years by investment and boiler room scams is nothing short of shocking: massive financial losses, psychological distress and mental illness resulting from such an experience. Unsuspecting European consumers lose their life savings to scrupulous international fraud organizations.
The operators of boiler scams need European payment processors (banks and legal and illegal payment service providers/FinTechs/PSPs) to collect and transfer the stolen money to offshore bank accounts under their control. EFRI is heavily convinced that without these willingly acting European PSPs, the fraud going on in Europe could not be possible at this scale. Based on our members’ (a/k/a victims) payment vouchers and the findings in different criminal and civil investigations in Europe, we identify and expose those European payment processors most intensively used by the scammers.
Based on this research, we found that Kobenhavns Andelskasse – a small Danish bank – was more or less involved in each boiler room scam from 2017 to 2018. No other European bank showed up in so many different investment scams.
How Kobenhavns Andelskasse got hijacked!
The venture from being an almost bankrupt unknown Danish cooperative bank to developing into a massive cybercrime enabler started in or around 2014. It could be a script for a Netflix serial.
- 2012 KBH started to be on the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) Watchlist
- 2014 – directors have to leave the bank, and an insolvency scenario of the cooperative bank is looming
- 2014 – a bail-out investment of Dansk OTC and Jesper BAK saved the cooperative bank.
- December 2015/16 FSA (danish supervisory authority) audit uncovers compliance, risk deficiencies and massive conflicts of interests issues.
- April 2016 – Jesper BAK has to resign as chairman on FSA request.
- June 2016 – Voting rights of Dansk OTC group deprived by FSA
- Autumn 2016 – except for one board member, all board members resigned (on request of the Danish FSA)
- Autumn 2016 – Wael ALMAREE joins as a beneficial owner vis WN International Group Aps
- Spring 2017 – Clearhaus, a Danish Fintech, acquires 33% of KBH.
- April/May 2018 – Clearhaus sells its shares to companies controlled by Wael ALMAREE (Moldavian entrepreneur)
- April 2018 – British FinTech expert and Wael ALMAREE confident Robert Courtneidge gets appointed as director
- April/Mai 2018 – FSA deprives voting rights of the new owners and starts again compliance audits.
- August 2018 – Criminal complaint against Clearhaus employees and beneficial owners is filed by FSA.
- August 2018 – Infos about massive money laundering issues get published.
- September 2018 – Kobenhavn Andelskasse was switched into liquidation mode by FSA
The Bail-out and repositioning
Since 2012, KBH Andelskasse was on the watchlist of the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) for risky and non-compliant business activities. In spring 2014, FSA dismissed the bank’s board when the bank became illiquid and headed toward bankruptcy. Dansk OTC stepped in.
The Danish investors and capital market expert Jesper BAK and his college Dag Kaj SCHENBERG injected DKK 21,000,000 (paid in cash) via their legal entity Dansk OTC to bail out the bank from its doom scenario. The bank was supposed to provide retail banking products and distribute pensions, insurance, and investment funds products until then. As with any other cooperative bank, it was owned by its customers who became members of the cooperative.
With the investment, Dansk OTC became a qualified owner in Kobenhavns Andelskasse (the first time Kobenhavn Andelskasse had owners with qualified ownership interests). Jesper BAK became the chairman of the board of directors joined by Hans Christian Hansen and Erik Bent Hansen as of May 3, 2014. The new owners soon decided to change the business model and transformed the bank to serve their interests.
The Danish FSA started to intervene
In December 2015 and January 2016, the FSA audited Kobenhavns Andelskasse and uncovered severe deficiencies in the risk and compliance standards, as well as material conflicts of interest in the bank’s day-to-day operation. The audit finally resulted in the not-so-voluntary resignation of all but one board member as they were not deemed fit and proper. They did not meet the requirements of the suitability of management body members and key function holders for banks under Directive 2013/36/EU and Directive 2014/65/EU.
Jesper BAK resigned in April 2016. While FSA has concluded its audit of Kobenhavns Andelskasse in spring 2016, the Danish prosecutor launched a criminal investigation against him and Dag Kaj SCHENBERG for insider trading and market manipulation. It was not the first time Jasper BAK had troubles with the law. In 1998, he already was found guilty of market manipulation and was sentenced to jail time. That said, it’s fair to assume that he was not fit and proper at the time when he became a qualified owner and chairman of Kobenhavn Andelskasse.
Københavns Andelskasse received several orders to rectify these matters and ensure that a future board of directors and the Executive Board would have the required knowledge and personal integrity to run Københavns Andelskasse in a compliant way.
In June 2016, FSA decided to abolish the voting rights directly and indirectly associated with Jesper BAK.
Gamification & Scammification
Forcing the management board to leave and to deprive its beneficial owner Jasper BAK of voting rights did not change the fate of Kobenhavns Andelskasse. On the contrary, things started to get worse. In or around autumn 2016, the well-known gambling entrepreneur Wael Sulaiman ALMAREE joined the bank as a new beneficial owner holding the investment in Kobenhavn Andelskasse via his WN International Group ApS, a freshly squeezed Danish legal entity.
Wael Sulaiman ALMAREE became one of the bank’s beneficial owners and started to change the bank’s business and to give the bank the final, fatal blow. He and Clearhaus A/S (see below) opened the bank for international customers, thereby initiating the high-risk business segment, focusing on gambling and scam businesses’ facilitation.
The Danish Fintech Clearhaus A/S acquired 33% of Kobenhavn Andelskasse in spring 2017, worth some EUR 10 Mio back then. Clearhaus had a close business relationship with Dansk OTC and Jesper BAK historically. In September 2015, Dansk OTC brokered a $3.2 Mio investment for Clearhaus A/S. In April 2017, the FinTech argued that together with Kobenhavn Andelskasse, they could develop a solution that integrates traditional banking and so-called “acquiring business.” enabling them to address the needs of e-commerce companies (merchants). “Our interest is in closing the gap between traditional banking and acquiring. Clients will be able to see where they stand banking-wise without delay based on their transaction activity”.
Clearhaus A/S initiated and coordinated a massive inflow of international payments to Kobenhavns Andelskasse, mainly from its acquiring business for gaming and gambling customers from Norway, Turkey, France.
WN International Group A/S, on the other hand, also incorporated shell companies abroad and managed them to sign up with KBH. These new KBH customers collected lots of dirty money from hundreds of boiler room scams on KBH bank accounts and enabled the transfer of the stolen funds out to the scammers.
In May 2018, Clearhaus informed the Danish FSA about the sale of its shareholdings to their fellow shareholder WN International Group ApS (sole UBO Wael ALMAREE) and ACEA Capital A/S. ACEA Capital A/S (Wael ALMAREE owns supposedly 15-19.99% of this company). The Moldavian Wael ALMAREE finally became the controlling beneficial owner with estimated holdings of more than 35% of a European bank.
The new owners appointed Robert COURTNEIDGE – a well-known British FinTech pioneer (OneCoin advisor, ex-ePayments System) – for the management board in April 2018.
The final act.
In August 2018, the bank reported employees of the former shareholder Clearhaus A/S to the police for alleged fraud and violation of the Money Laundering Act.
The FSA never approved ACEA Capital A/S and WN International Group Aps as the bank’s beneficial owners, and thus they were deprived of their voting rights.
The initiated FSA investigations revealed massive money laundering issues. From October 2017 to September 2018 alone, the cash inflow totalled more than EUR 550 Mio (some DKK 4,1B) in foreign customers’ accounts. The money left the bank during the same period. In these 12 months alone, 183 foreign customers – all more or less related to the then-owners of KBH Andelskasse triggered a total of 1645 money laundering alarms without any actions taken. For more about this, read here and here on Fintelegram.
As of September 13 2018, Kobenhavns Andelskasse was closed for gross and systematic violations of the compliance framework and AML directives. Finansiel Stabilitet took over the disgraced bank to be wounded up. Besides, the FSA filed money laundering complaints with the Danish prosecutor. Also, civil charges were filed.
Corruption in Denmark is amongst the lowest in the world. According to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International, Denmark ranks first place out of 180 countries. It has consistently been in the top-4 since the first report in 1995. The low corruption index was before the DANSKE bank scandal. Due to its smaller size, the KBH scandal never reached enormous public coverage like the DANSKE bank scandal. But the extent of harm the board and the owners did to the European consumers (not Russian oligarchs) can be for sure compared.
Up to now, Finansiel Stabilitet and the Danish FSA deny any responsibility for the harm done to the victims. The KBH scandal is a sham for the European bank industry and its supervisory scheme.