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All major Swedish banks named in money-laundering probe

Published tisdag 21 mars kl 14.02
Money transfers via Swedish accounts
(1:44 min)
Logos of the four biggest Swedish banks
All four major Swedish banks are involved in the probe, which is thought to concern money from criminal activities in Russia. Credit: Markus Dahlberg/TT, Marcus Ericsson/TT, Ingvar Karmhed/SvD/TT

The Swedish bank Nordea is subject to a major international money-laundering probe, the Danish newspaper Berlingske reported on Monday night. It now turns out that Handelsbanken, Swedbank and SEB are also involved.

Berlingske carried out the investigation as part of an international reporter network, as the money-laundering probe also involves banks in Germany, the UK and the US. A total of at least USD 20 billion was reportedly laundered between 2011 and 2014, and the money is thought to originate from criminal activities in Russia. 

Accounts with Sweden’s Nordea and Denmark’s Danske Bank were involved in the transfer of more than DKK 7 billion to tax havens around the world via shell companies across Europe. 

On Tuesday, Berlingske reported that the remaining three major Swedish banks – Swedbank, Handelsbanken and SEB – are also subject to the probe. 

Nordea is seemingly the most prominent out of the Swedish banks to figure in the probe. But the remaining three Swedish banks were also involved, via transfers between their accounts. According to Berlingske, SEB was involved in close to 150 transfers to its Swedish, Finnish and Baltic branches. 

Frank Hojem, press spokesperson at SEB, declined to comment in detail, but gave an overall comment.

“We must constantly change and improve our processes and systems,” he told Swedish Radio. 

Finansinspektionen, Sweden's financial supervisory authority, has previously criticised the Swedish banks for their lacking procedures when it comes to money laundering. 

“This particular case seems to be about those shortfalls that emerged with the Panama Papers,” Finansinspektionen's Deputy Director-General Martin Noréus told TT news agency. 

Two banks in Moldova and Latvia are at the centre of the probe. The suspected money laundering were first uncovered in those countries, and according to several media outlets the money came from criminal activities in Russia. Berlingske reports that 14 judges have been arrested in Moldova.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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