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923 accounts at Andorra bank suspected of money laundering

MADRID – The tiny European state of Andorra says a study shows one of its banks had 923 accounts suspected of money laundering, a finding the bank’s principal shareholders have blasted as false and misleading.

Andorran authorities seized Banca Privada d’Andorra last year after it was accused by the U.S. of helping groups from China, Russia and Venezuela launder money.

The study by consultants PwC said the 923 accounts represented three per cent of the 29,200 customers and about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in business volume, or 19 per cent of the bank’s total, Andorran financial authorities said in a statement Tuesday night.

But the Cierco family that is the bank’s principal shareholder said the government “cannot point to any evidence of actual money laundering” and that BPA had already reported incidents of money laundering to the government.

The family called Wednesday on Andorra to release the complete PwC audit and said any claims “that BPA was at its core an illicit business simply does not have legitimate basis, and runs contrary to common sense.”

Andorra said BPA senior management and majority shareholders remain under investigation and that the report found more than 90 per cent of BPA’s clients are fit to be transferred to the newly-created Vall bank.

Located between Spain and France, Andorra has 85,000 residents.