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Swedbank to bolster money laundering system with financial crime unit

Swedbank AB (publ) CEO Birgitte Bonnesen unveiled plans to form a new specialized financial crime intelligence unit in a bid to improve the Swedish lender's anti-money laundering control system.

The announcement comes as Swedbank released the preliminary update on a third-party review it commissioned into its alleged involvement in the dirty money transactions in the Baltic region. The review came after Swedish state television SVT reported that some of its customers have shifted billions in suspicious transactions between the lender and Danske Bank A/S.

The initial review, by Forensic Risk Alliance, found that some of the entities named by SVT had been customers. However, the report was redacted and the number of such customers was not revealed. All accounts in question had been closed as of July 10, 2018, but FRA said it was not clear whether it was the bank or the account holders themselves that initiated the closures.

The last transaction for any of the accounts was made May 31, 2017.

The bank noted that the some information was redacted for law compliance and security purposes. The second phase of the review is set to begin and will include a review of transactions and of the bank's know-your-customer files.

Chairman Lars Idermark said the board has continued confidence in Bonnesen, but that it has also resolved to conduct a deeper review in cooperation with relevant authorities.

Bonnesen added that the lender will continue to invest in its processes and technology to boost its risk management practices.

Sweden's financial supervisory authority, Finansinspektionen, recently said it received reports of suspected money laundering from the bank, which is the subject of an investigation.

Amid the scandal, Liselott Alström, who is responsible for the bank's anti-money laundering work, stepped down from this role, according to Dagens Industri.