Swedbank is the subject of an inquiry by U.S. regulators in the wake of money laundering scandals, reported the Financial Times.
In what is seen as a significant increase in the level of scrutiny placed on the bank, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) alerted Swedbank in a letter in February that it was looking into seven different cases at the bank. The news comes on the same day prosecutors in Sweden raided Swedbank, hours after it was revealed the bank handled €135bn coming from non-residents in high-risk countries, mainly from Russia, via its Estonian branch over the past 10 years.
In February, Sweden and Estonia announced a joint inquiry into money laundering in the Baltics. The letter by the Department of Financial Services in New York is the first sign that U.S. regulators are looking into Swedbank's actions. The Swedish Economic Crime Authority launched the raid as part of an investigation to determine whether the bank broke insider trading laws by alerting shareholders that a television program covering money laundering allegations at Swedbank was about to air.
In the letter, which was seen by the Financial Times, the regulator says it has engaged in several inquiries related to Swedbank and its ties to the money laundering scandals that have broken out, including those at Danske Bank, Latvia’s ABLV, Cyprus’ FBME Bank and Lithuania’s Ukio Bank. It is also looking at its ties to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers.
“From our review of the production, it appears that this response may be incomplete, as it does not appear to apply to ‘the global operations of Swedbank,’ and instead excludes responsive information relating to parents, subsidiaries or other affiliates of Swedbank,” stated the letter, which was signed by the DFS’ Deputy Superintendent for Enforcement Megan Prendergast Millard.
Swedbank told the Financial Times that the law prevents it from commenting on any of its communications with the DFS. “Swedbank cooperates fully and communicates clearly, truthfully and with good faith with all relevant authorities,” the bank told the newswire.