AML Probe Into Swedbank Turns Up $4.8M In Possible Violations

Swedbank Probe Finds $4.8M In Possible Violations

The Swedbank anti-money laundering (AML) probe by the law firm Clifford Chance has uncovered 586 transactions totaling roughly $4.8 million in possible U.S. sanction violations, Swedbank said in a press release on Wednesday (March 11).

Sweden’s oldest bank will send a detailed report to the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The bank is planning a press conference on March 23 to enable Clifford Chance to present the findings.

After the press conference, Göran Persson, chairman of the board, and Jens Henriksson, president and chief executive officer, will discuss the Clifford Chance findings.

The investigation reviewed the bank’s activities from 2007 through March 2019, and also looked into who their customers were and which transactions were processed. The probe also investigated the bank’s handling of internal and external information disclosures and its handling of issues previously brought to its attention.

Of the potential OFAC violations, 95 percent were processed from 2015 to 2016. Some 508 transactions were comprised of “salary payments and payments associated with the operation of a vessel whose owner and operator are located in Crimea and used Swedbank in the Baltics,” the release said.

“I have been clear regarding the fact that Clifford Chance is to report any suspected sanction breaches that they may have come across in the investigation,” said Henriksson. “This has now occurred. We are now immediately proceeding with a self-report to OFAC. This shows that the bank’s process for know your customer, transaction monitoring and internal governance and control have had shortcomings. At the same time, it is some relief that it regards a relatively low amount and transactions such as salary payments.”

Henriksson moved into the bank’s head role in October following a money-laundering investigation that led to the ousting of CEO Birgitte Bonnesen. She was fired in March just after Swedish police raided the bank’s headquarters. Henriksson was previously the chief financial officer.

Swedbank has been linked to the money-laundering scandal at Danske Bank, which said its Estonia branch was used to move $221 billion of suspicious funds between 2007 and 2015. Swedbank then admitted in April that it had failed to prevent the laundering and announced an internal investigation.