How on Earth does ESTONIA rank lowest for risk of money laundering?

Actually, it shouldn’t be surprising.

Wait, what?!

I know there are a lot of people who think there must be some mistake. Surely, they mean Estonia is first in the world for supporting money laundering, not first in the world for combatting money laundering.

But what about those huge Estonian money laundering scandals around Danske currently in the news?

This may be currently in the news, but the actual incidents happened quite a while back and were closed down around 2014. The fact that you are now reading about it is a good thing because it is being dealt with seriously. Even the original whistleblower in this case has praised the Estonian government’s response.

But I heard that more than $1 TRILLION DOLLARS crossed Estonia’s borders over the last decade?

This was a claim made in RT and other related websites last year suggesting that Estonia may be the ‘money laundering capital of the world’. According to the article: “The Estonian central bank has admitted that it saw more than $1 trillion in money flows between 2008 and 2017.”

But things are different now. Estonia now lets anyone start a company from abroad through e-Residency.

Actually, almost all countries allow people to start companies from abroad. E-Residency didn’t invent the idea of non-residents operating in our business environment. By launching e-Residency, Estonia merely offered a much more convenient and secure way to do this (both for the e-residents and the Estonian state overseeing them).

Then why do so many people around the world want to be e-residents?

Because ease of business is very different to ease of criminality. E-Residency is popular with legitimate entrepreneurs who value having a trusted company that they can conveniently run online through convenient e-services. Many of them welcome the high levels of transparency and oversight that enable them to operate as e-residents.

So why is there such a huge gap between the reality and perception of how Estonia successfully combats money laundering?

It’s clearly absurd if the country that objectively has the lowest risk of money laundering in the world is also widely believed to be the money laundering capital of the world.



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Adam Rang

Saunapreneur at Previously Chief Evangelist at Estonia’s e-Residency programme.