SEB believes there is no need to take further action after the bank was accused of having links to suspected money laundering in Estonia.
Earlier this month, the bank revealed that it had been contacted by the Swedish public broadcaster SVT about “suspected money laundering in the Baltics.” SVT has accused Swedbank of a similar offense.
But SEB said that SVT’s evidence didn’t amount to much. “The program showed us nothing new which we need to act on today,” SEB Chief Executive Johan Torgeby told Reuters.
SVT’s reportedly had a SEB client list that contained “red flags,” which are names associated with well-known proxies for Russian non-resident companies suspected of money laundering. The transactions were carried out via 194 SEB accounts including around 475 million Swedish crowns ($49 million) connected to the so-called Magnitsky affair, named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested in 2008 after accusing Russian official of tax fraud. The news agency said its report was based on leaked information provided by the Organized Crime and Corruption Project investigative reporting consortium.
But Torgeby denied there has been any connection between SEB and Magnitsky, saying there was a “huge discrepancy” with what SVT had reported. SEB also said that it had closed 95 percent of the accounts in question.
“We have not seen any evidence that any of the 179 companies on a sanctions list for their connection to the Magnitsky affair have ever been a client of SEB,” Torgeby said, adding that SEB had “not been used for money laundering in a systematic way.”
But Sweden’s financial watchdog said an investigation into SEB was ongoing and it had no comment at this time.
In the meantime, SEB’s largest shareholder said it was happy with the way SVT’s allegations were being handled.
“We have confidence in the way the bank and its management is working with these issues. We also think its good that the bank is being as transparent as it is,” Viveka Hirdman-Ryrberg, a spokeswoman for Investor AB, said.