Banking

Swedbank CEO ‘Humble’ After Laundering Claims

Swedbank’s CEO has admitted to making some mistakes when handling money laundering allegations against the bank.

Last month it was revealed that Estonia’s investigation of money laundering involving Danske Bank was widening to include Swedbank after a Swedish TV show said it found evidence that 40 billion Swedish crowns ($4.30 billion) were transferred between accounts at Danske and Swedbank between 2007 and 2015.

Since then, Swedbank’s CEO, Birgitte Bonnesen, has been criticized for appearing to mislead investors and the public after repeatedly denying the bank’s involvement in the scandal.

But Bill Browder, an investor known for chasing money launderers, says he has evidence supporting the television report, adding that he plans to file a criminal complaint against Swedbank.

“I have had reason, after recent reporting in the media, to reflect on both a CEO’s communication and my own communicative style,” Bonnesen said in a phone interview, according to Bloomberg.

“I realize that when you express yourself in the way that I often do, I need to provide more context, and I also realize that I need to be more vigilant regarding nuances,” she added. “This is an incredibly complex issue, and I cannot assume that the people who listen to me have the full context regarding Danske or others.”

Bonnesen, who said she will continue on as the CEO of Sweden’s largest bank, noted that she doesn’t regret any of her comments about money laundering, and that she doesn’t feel the information she shared was incorrect. However, she admitted that she needs to work on her communication moving forward.

In the meantime, Swedbank has hired Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA) to conduct an external investigation into the allegations.

“I’d like to wait until we get the result from that investigation,” Bonnesen said. The FRA is expected at the end of the month.

Since the allegations became public, Swedbank has lost about a fifth of its market value.

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