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Hermitage flags possible Nordea money laundering breach to Swedish watchdog

Swedish authorities have received documents from Hermitage Capital Management Ltd. flagging possible violations of anti-money laundering rules by Nordea Bank Abp, Reuters reported.

Although no formal probe has been launched yet, a spokesman for Sweden's Economic Crime Authority told the newswire that it is evaluating which authority should handle the claims. The agency declined to give additional details regarding the matter.

Nordea, which recently moved its headquarters to Finland from Sweden, said it is aware of Hermitage Capital's report, according to the newswire. "We work closely with the relevant authorities in the countries in which we operate, including the Nordic Financial Intelligence Units," the bank noted.

In 2015, the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority fined the bank 50 million kronor for "major deficiencies" in its efforts to prevent money laundering. The bank also received a "high administrative fine" for breaching money-laundering rules and the EU's sanctions regulation in 2013.

The recent allegations against Nordea follow a string of money laundering woes that have been rocking the Nordic and Baltic banking sectors, with the Estonian branch of Denmark's Danske Bank A/S being the subject of an ongoing money laundering scandal in recent months.

Bill Browder, the co-founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital, has also recently lodged a criminal complaint with Estonia's prosecutor general against 26 bankers who worked at Danske Bank.

Separately, Denmark's State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime confirmed on its Twitter account that it has received a report regarding Nordea, according to Reuters. The prosecutor's office said a case against the lender is already being handled but noted that it will take a close look at the said report and coordinate with relevant authorities.

The state prosecutor, however, did not confirm whether the submitted material came from Hermitage Capital, the newswire noted.

As of Oct. 16, US$1 was equivalent to 8.89 Swedish kronor.