Vote opens former Swedbank leaders to possible legal action

0:57 min

One of Sweden's biggest banks continues to be rocked by scandals uncovered in its leadership and on Tuesday shareholders voted to potentially hold two top figures legally accountable.

At the Swedbank annual general meeting both the former CEO and the chair of the board were denied discharge from liability (ansvarsfrihet). This means they could personally be held responsible and sued for damages by shareholders.

Such a move is highly unusual in Sweden and indicates deep ill feeling among Swedbank's owners about the actions of not only ex-CEO Michael Wolf, who was fired after being criticized for his personal business activities, but also chairman Anders Sundström, who has seen his bank shaken by losing not only its CEO, but also its Head of Large Corporates & Institutions and Chief Financial Officer.

Wolf has denied any wrongdoing and last week Sundström said he was proud over his time at Swedbank.

According to legal expert Carl Svernlöv, who is also an adjunct professor at Uppsala University, the vote against discharging Wolf and Sundström from liability has no immediate legal effect.

"The decision means only that the company reserves the right for a year to bring legal action against the persons who were not granted discharge," Svernlöv told news agency TT.