The Estonian unit of Swedbank AB is a suspect in a money-laundering investigation, after a special white-collar crime investigator with Estonia’s Central Criminal Police notified the bank that Swedbank AS has been summoned, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday (March 14).
Estonian investigators are mulling whether the Swedbank AS was involved in money laundering and other criminal violations, the report says, noting the bank said it “cooperates with the authorities” and shares all information.
“The bank has no further information as to how this investigation will proceed or what the implications of it may be,” Swedbank said in its statement.
This is the latest example of Swedbank finding itself in legal hot water related to money laundering.
In 2020, Sweden’s financial supervisory authority, Finansinspektionen, doled out a 4 billion Swedish kronor (about $397 million at the time) fine on the bank after finding serious deficiencies in its anti-money-laundering measures following an investigation with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
In 2019, a Swedish broadcaster reported that billions of dollars in suspicious transactions, most of which were linked to Russia, may have gone through Swedbank’s Estonia operations. Swedbank fired Chief Executive Birgitte Bonnesen a month after the report and Swedish police raided the bank’s headquarters later that year.
Swedbank hired Britta Hjorth-Larsen as chief compliance officer earlier this year.
Swedbank was reportedly processing transactions in Estonia of around 20 billion Euros from Russian non-residents between 2012 and 2016, leading to the investigation and mega-million-dollar fine.
The money-laundering scandal also involved Swedbank peer bank Danske Bank. FSA Director General Erik Theden told Reuters at the time that the bank had inadequately prepared itself for money laundering in the Baltic operation, and also, on several occasions, failed to report instances that revealed the scope of the problems.
Swedbank entered the Baltics in the 1990s after the Soviet Union disbanded and became the largest bank in Estonia.