Swedbank’s Dirty Money Dealings should trigger fundamental changes in Anti-Money Laundering Supervision



Swedish Public Broadcaster (SVT) announced in 2019 indicating that Swedbank made a transaction of about US$5.8 billion worth to Danske Bank. This led to the start of a money-laundering investigation by Transparency International in February 2019. The investigation has revealed that Swedbank and its Baltic branches sought high-risks clients and reportedly initiated about US$40 billion high-risk transactions between 2014 and 2019 neglecting the anti-money laundering laws. Following the allegations, the bank denied involvement in money laundering but for the help of a whistleblower, investigative journalists, and pressure from the public.

Transparency International today raised an alarm today, on the obvious deficiencies in the European Union’s anti-money laundering system after it found new evidence against Swedbank. In a 218 report released by the agency, TI revealed that Swedbank hid information from authorities and continuously failed to identify and record clients’ identities and the origins of their funds. Last week, the Swedish banking supervisor issued a Swedbank a fine of US$395 million for breaching anti-money laundering law and investigations into crimes are reportedly on in Estonia, Latvia and the US. The agency has, therefore, called on governments in Latvia to improve the ability to prosecute money launders and punish those involved.
The fact that Swedbank failed in implementing anti-money laundering policies from 2006 to 2018 is a serious concern and also showed evidence that the bank sector has failed in governance and supervision of its anti-money laundering framework. Transparency International is, therefore, calling for stronger EU-wide supervision across all financial institutions.