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Sweden Fined SEB Bank 95 Million Euros For Money Laundering In The Baltic States

Sweden Fined SEB Bank 95 Million Euros For Money Laundering In The Baltic States

The Swedish Financial Inspectorate (FI) has fined the SEB banking group SEK 1 billion (EUR 95 million) for deficiencies in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing systems in the Baltic States.

According to a press release from the regulator, the investigation was conducted after information about alleged violations in SEB structures in Estonia was published by the broadcaster SVT in November last year.

In the course of supervision, shortcomings were identified in the collection of customer data and in the identification of actual beneficiaries (the Bank did not comply with the requirements of due diligence to identify the beneficial owner and monitor commercial relations), violations were recorded when transmitting messages to the anti-money laundering Bureau (the Bank did not fulfill the obligation to notify in case of suspicions).

"SEB did not sufficiently identify the risks of money laundering in the Baltic divisions, and there were deficiencies in management and control," FI said.

The fine against SEB is the second-largest ever imposed by Sweden's financial regulator.

"Since 2014, the Financial Inspectorate has sent a clear message to banks that they must have control systems that comply with internationally agreed anti-money laundering standards," said Kilvar Kessler, Chairman of the FI Board, in a press release. "We identified shortcomings in the work of AS SEB Bank to prevent money laundering, so we decided to send an order to the Bank and fined it."

On January 28 of this year, FI initiated a case against SEB.

Agnes Strazda, head of communications at Latvian SEB Banka, told the BNS News Agency that the Latvian financial and capital market Commission finished checking the Bank at the end of 2019, fining 672.7 thousand euros for violations in the field of preventing the legalization of criminally obtained funds and the financing of terrorism, and 1 million 121.14 thousand euros for violations of international sanctions.

Last week, the financial Supervisory authority of Lithuania completed the audit at SEB without applying any sanctions. On June 25, the results of the audit were reported by the Estonian regulator, which also found no systematic violations in SEB.

According to Strazda, the checks showed that the Bank is not used for money laundering systematically and that SEB was able to introduce all the necessary control mechanisms. "In the future, one of the main priorities of the Bank will also be to improve the system for monitoring customers and transactions - not only technical but also human resources will be increased," she added.

At the end of last year, the parent Bank SEB Sweden published a review of the volume of payments made by non-resident customers in the Baltic States from 2005 to 2018. Charts show that in those years, 25.8 billion euros passed through the Bank's Estonian branch, the origin of which is not transparent.

Earlier, it was reported about a series of scandals involving Scandinavian and Baltic banks, which led to mass resignations in top management and a reduction in the credit ratings of financial companies. In particular, the scandals affected Danske Bank and Swedbank and their divisions in the Baltic countries. According to media reports, suspicious transactions worth billions of dollars could have passed through them, and the money is linked to Russian sources.

SEB divisions operate in all three Baltic countries.