Nordea, the biggest bank in the Nordic region, is being accused of handling millions of dollars in suspicious transactions for several years.
According to a report in Reuters, citing Finnish broadcaster Yle, which had access to leaked documents, the money came from companies registered in countries with tax havens, including the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Belize. The bank reportedly handled 700 million euros or $790 million in transactions that were questionable from 2005 to 2017.
Yle is part of a group of media companies that joined forces to look into money laundering in the Baltics tied to Russia. It's not clear from the report if Nordea faces any ties to the money laundering scandal in Estonia that has ensnared rivals Swedbank and Danske Bank, the news outlet said. Nordea, according to the report, had no immediate comment when the allegations were reported by Yle in an online story and ran in Danish newspaper Berlingske, which is part of the media group investigating money laundering. “These are all issues that we have seen and commented on before and are therefore in line with previous statements made on AML (anti-money laundering) issues,” it told Reuters ahead of the full report's release.
The report noted that back in October Nordic financial regulators said they were handed documents from Hermitage Capital that accused Nordea of breaking the rules under anti-money laundering laws. At the time Nordea said it was assisting regulators and that it had not failed to report any suspicious activities. The Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority said in the report it would need to look into the allegations before it could comment. The potential scandal at Nordea initially sent shares down although they were able to recover. One analyst wasn't surprised by the news. “Another day, another bank, new allegations,” investment bank KBW wrote in a note to clients covered by Reuters. The investment firm rates Nordea at underperform.
The Yle report also hurt shares of DNB, the largest bank in Norway, which merged its Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian operations with Nordea in 2017. Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, also part of the investigative media consortium, alleviated concerns, reporting the Norway-based bank wasn't part of the scandal.