The Estonian prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday it was investigating whether Sweden’s Swedbank was involved in suspicious deals with Danske Bank, Denmark’s biggest bank, which has become embroiled in a money laundering scandal.
Denmark, Estonia, Britain, France and the United States are investigating 200 billion euros worth of possibly suspicious transactions made via the Estonian division of Denmark’s largest bank, mainly from Russia and several former Soviet republics.
A Swedish television channel reported that, according to documents, at least 40 billion Swedish crowns (3.8 billion euros) had been transferred between Swedbank and Danske accounts in the Baltic countries between 2007 and 2015.
“This does not automatically mean that a bank that receives payments in connection with a possible money-laundering operation has committed an offense or has breached the obligation imposed on the bank to to know its client and identify suspicious circumstances,” the spokesperson for the Estonian prosecutor’s office, said in a statement.
Swedbank Chief Executive Birgitte Bonnesen said she was confident in the group’s procedures to prevent money laundering and report suspicious transactions, but could not be entirely certain that nothing had slipped through the cracks.
“After identifying suspicious transactions or activities, we conducted in-depth reviews and, where appropriate, reported them to the authorities,” she said in a conference call.
She added, however, that she could not guarantee that nothing had escaped the bank’s vigilance. “Is there a risk that a payment in 2007 will have passed through? Yes, there is a risk,” she said.
Meanwhile, Estonia’s banking watchdog FSA said yesterday that it has ordered Danske Bank to close its Estonian branch within eight months as a result of the scandal.
“We have every right to put an end, once and for all, to this … as … large-scale violations of the local rules have been committed … and this has dealt a serious blow to the … reputation of the Estonian financial market,” Kilvar Kessler, the head of Estonia’s banking regulator, said.