Friday 19 July 2019

Swedish watchdog finds 'nothing strange' after Danske scandal

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Rafaela Lindeberg

The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority said it has not found any signs of wrongdoing at Swedish banks with operations in the Baltics in the wake of the Danske Bank money-laundering scandal in Estonia.

"We have today no reason to say that we've seen anything strange," Erik Thedeen, the head of the financial watchdog, told reporters after a speech in Stockholm.

But while the financial regulator has earlier made the assessment that the Swedish banks' business models in the Baltics imply that the risk "isn't as big as it has turned out to be in Danske", the FSA "must be humble" and investigate thoroughly "to see what we can learn from this crisis", he said.

The regulator is in talks with authorities in both Denmark and the Baltics to assess the situation and is also having talks with the Swedish banks, he said.

While Sweden's Swedbank and SEB have large operations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, they focus on domestic retail clients and not on the non-resident customers that are at the centre of the Danske scandal.

In response to a Bloomberg article on money-laundering related issues in Estonia last week, Swedbank CEO Birgitte Bonnesen issued a statement saying that "there are currently no ongoing investigations into our bank from any of our regulators concerning AML practices".

SEB said last week that it "never had, and do not have the idea, to serve non-residential customers in the Baltic countries".

It feels "confident" that its anti-money laundering processes are satisfactory, a spokesman said.

Mr Thedeen of the Swedish FSA said that while he "feels safe" in that Swedish banks aren't in the same situation as Danske Bank's operations in Estonia due to their different business model, his agency has a duty to investigate when something on the scale of the Danske Bank scandal happens.


Irish Independent

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