Eritrea's president, Isaias Afwerki. Photo: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Scanpix.

Nordea helps Eritrea collect taxes: report

Sweden’s partially state-owned bank Nordea is letting the Eritrean regime use its money transaction system Plusgirot to collect a tax which the United Nations has deemed to be unlawful, Swedish news agency TT reports.

According to a new United Nations report, the Eritrean government has links to the militant group al-Shabaab and has defied a UN arms embargo. The UN has also established that Eritrea continues its "illicit collection of money" from Eritreans living abroad, "in particular its enforcement of a two-percent income tax".

The UN claims it has proof that this has occurred in Sweden, where the Eritrean embassy gathers taxes from Eritreans living in the Nordic countries.

Such taxes are believed to be one of the Eritrean regime's primary sources of income, with tens of millions of Swedish krona coming into the country from Sweden alone. It is unclear how much of this money has been transferred through Nordea.

Eritrea claims the taxes are voluntary, but TT cited sources claiming that they are collected through blackmail.

"In my view, the tax is illegal. You should not be forced to pay anything," said Yoseph Yohannes, a vocal critic of the Eritrean regime.

According to TT's sources, the Eritrean embassy in Sweden has used one particular Plusgiro account for several years and it holds six Nordea accounts in total.

Nordea spokesman Erik Durhan said: "We cannot comment on what potential clients we have. We abide by the laws and rules that follow EU directives in the area and we act according to the sanctions demands formulated by the UN and the EU."

Nordea may be called to the Swedish Parliament later this week to account for its actions.

TT also sought the Eritrean embassy for comment.

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