Photo: Pi Frisk/TT
Michael Wolf in 2014. Photo: Pi Frisk/TT

Swedbank ex-chief reported for financial crimes

"We have a so-called whistleblower, one of our employees"
1:45 min

One of Sweden's largest banks, Swedbank, has reported their ex-CEO Michael Wolf on suspicion of financial crimes to Finansinspektionen, Sweden's financial supervisory authority. Wolf, who was fired in a surprise move from the bank on Tuesday, has denied any wrongdoing and says the report is part of a "smear campaign."

In a press release posted on their website Friday Swedbank confirmed that they had reported Wolf. The press statement says the bank's board reported Wolf in accordance with the rules on "market abuse," but because of the ongoing investigation bank officials say they cannot disclose the nature of the suspected crime to either Wolf or the media.

"The bank has identified transactions that 'can be supposed' to constitute crimes," states the press release. Those transactions were executed by Wolf, says the statement. The report of suspected misconduct that was first brought to Finansinspektionen last week was later passed on to the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, which is now handling inquiry.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Swedbank's Chairman Anders Sundström explained that a whistleblower within the bank called attention to actions taken by Wolf when he was CEO. Those actions had potentially broken the rules to prevent market abuse. Sundström said the board had consulted with its legal team, and he was advised to report Wolf to Finansinspektionen.

The board then voted on Monday to fire Wolf who had served as chief executive since 2009. But Sundström said that Wolf was already on his way out when the chairman was made aware of the suspected crime.

"We on the board have wanted a change. We wanted to get new leadership. The timing is connected with these events," said Sundström.

In an e-mail to news agency TT Wolf denied any wrongdoing.

"I am extremely surprised about the report. I deny any criminal allegations. I welcome an investigation that can prove I am innocent. I believe, unfortunately, that this is still part of a smear campaign against me," wrote Wolf to TT.

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