Swedish television highlights Swedbank’s links to Danske

A Swedish television program has stated it has uncovered documents which point to at least $4.30 billion (40 billion Swedish crowns) had been transferred between accounts at Swedbank and Danske in the Baltics between 2007 and 2015.

Following a report by Swedish television that it had uncovered documents linking Swedbank to suspicious transactions with Danske in Estonia, Swedbank stated, it has robust money laundering controls in place.

Danske Bank is under investigation in its home market of Denmark, Estonia, Britain, France and the United States over some 200 billion euros ($226 billion) in payments from Russia, ex-Soviet states and elsewhere that were found to have flowed through its Estonian branch.

Swedish television showed SVT’s Uppdrag Granskning investigative program saying it had uncovered documents which point to at least $4.30 billion (40 billion Swedish crowns) had been transferred between accounts at Swedbank and Danske in the Baltics between 2007 and 2015.

Swedbank’s spokesman Gabriel Francke Rodau stated, fighting money laundering was one of Swedbank’s top priorities.

“We are comfortable with the systems and processes we have to prevent and avert money laundering. When we get signals, we act,” said Rodau.

In a statement, Swedbank said, it could not comment on all of the details in the program given the bank secrecy laws and rules which prevents it discussing cases it had already reported to authorities.

With the news reaching the market, its shares were down by 7.3% at 1000 GMT.

Earlier, Birgitte Bonnesen, Swedbank’s Chief Executive Officer, had repeatedly stated that the bank, the biggest lender in the Baltic countries, did not find any connection which ties it or any other money-laundering operations in the region to Danske.

“None of the names that have been out there have been customers in Swedbank, former or current,” Bonnesen had told reporters in October 2018.

The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority said it had no comment on the report at present.

According to the TV program that was aired, at least 50 transactions of Swedbank’s clients should have raised red flags as they were companies with no visible operations, had unknown beneficial owners or were represented by suspected “goalkeepers” – people who only provide a front for an organization.

“The investigation covers more than 1,000 of Swedbank’s clients in high-risk countries who are known from the money laundering scandal in Danske Bank,” said SVT on its website.

On Tuesday, Danske Bank was ordered by Estonian authorities to shut down its operations in the country within eight months. The bank said it would be leaving Russia and the Baltics region altogether.

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