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Report: Swedbank allegedly handled billions in 'suspicious' transactions

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Report: Swedbank allegedly handled billions in 'suspicious' transactions

Swedbank AB (publ) allegedly processed transactions for "suspicious" customers amounting to around 95 billion Swedish kronor between the Swedish lender and Danske Bank A/S, Reuters reported, citing Swedish state television.

The transactions were carried out between 2007 and 2015 in the Baltics, according to SVT's program "Uppdrag Granskning."

SVT said the report was based on an internal Swedbank report dated September 2018. In response to the report, the Swedish bank said the analysis that "Uppdrag Granskning" referred to is the initial report that the lender made last autumn.

"In 2018, Swedbank on its own initiative in response to public information regarding Danske Bank made an analysis of payments between customers in Danske Bank and Swedbank. In the analysis, Swedbank looked at payments made during 2007-2015," the lender said in a March 15 statement.

"As we have repeated many times, we act on different signals. Therefore, it was natural for us to act when the disclosures about Danske Bank came out on the market. That was the background to our analysis," Swedbank CEO Birgitte Bonnesen said.

Swedbank said it takes its responsibilities to prevent and detect money laundering "very seriously." The bank has repeatedly denied any part in Danske Bank's alleged money laundering activities, with Bonnesen saying its management has conducted a review that did not find anything linking the Swedish lender to the case. Bonnesen, however, later admitted that there was "risk" that laundered funds could have slipped through the lender's Baltic operations during the period under consideration.

Meanwhile, the Danish branch of Sweden-based SEB Kort Bank AB is deemed to have a "normal to high" inherent risk of being abused for money laundering or financing of terrorism, relative to the average financial firms in Denmark, according to the country's financial markets regulator.

The Danish Financial Supervisory Authority conducted an inspection on the Danish branch of SEB Kort Bank, a unit of Swedish lender Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB, in March 2018 as part of its supervision of the branch.

In a report published March 13, the regulator said it found that the products offered by the branch can be used for money transfers and its customer portfolio consists solely of distance customers.

The FSA has thus given the Danish branch instructions to improve its procedures and money laundering controls, including obtaining additional information about customers the branch considers to be associated with a high risk of money laundering or terror financing.

The branch was also ordered to ensure that it is in compliance with anti-money laundering legislation.

Lars Lorenzen, head of the Danish branch of SEB Kort Bank, said the inspection did not detect any money laundering abuses, Reuters reported. The Danish branch has also tightened its processes and controls to comply with the FSA's order.

As of March 14, US$1 was equivalent to 9.32 Swedish kronor.