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ING faces money-laundering and corruption probe

Dutch open probe into ING corruption, money laundering
Dutch open probe into ING corruption, money laundering

Dutch lender ING has confirmed it is facing a criminal investigation into alleged money-laundering and corruption from Netherlands authorities, which could lead to significant fines.

"ING Bank is the subject of criminal investigations by Dutch authorities regarding various requirements related to the on-boarding of clients, money laundering, and corrupt practices," ING said in a statement.

Netherlands daily newspaper, Het Financieele Dagblad, suggested the probe was connected to an Uzbekistan bribery case, although this was not confirmed by the ING spokesperson.

The reported case referred to the suggestion that several telecommunication companies, including Amsterdam-based firm Vimpelcom, now called Veon, had been accused of paying bribes to the daughter of Uzbekistan's former president. The Dutch paper cited a source which could not be verified by CNBC.

"These allegations, first of all, have not been substantiated yet and they have nothing to do with our company," Alexey Reznikovich, chairman at Veon, told CNBC at Mobile World Congress on March 2.

"But I think that when you work in markets like Russia, Algeria and other countries it is extremely important to have very strong compliance function, very strong legal function and that's what we have been doing in Veon for the last couple of years," he added.

Financial impact could become material

ING bank had disclosed it was under investigation last week, albeit on page 232 of the company's annual report.

"The total amounts that need to be repaid or compensated in some cases still need to be determined… The aggregate financial impact of current and future litigation could become material," ING said in the report.

"Given that the matter is under investigation we cannot comment further other than that we cooperate with the investigations."

Five years ago, in a separate case, the U.S. office of Foreign Assets Control ordered ING bank to pay $619 million after the Dutch lender was found to have breached trade sanction rules.

ING Groep's shares were over 4.4 percent lower in early-afternoon trade on Wednesday.