--Swedish broadcaster links SEB to Fincen Leaks

--TV show claims SEB clients could cave laundered $930 million

--SEB says claims aren't news

 

By Dominic Chopping

 

STOCKHOLM--Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB might have been used to launder around 8.2 billion Swedish kronor ($930 million) through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2016, Swedish national broadcaster SVT claimed in a report late Tuesday.

TV news show Uppdrag Granskning has made several money-laundering claims in recent years and in its latest investigation, it says that around 57 SEB clients, mostly from the Baltic states, exhibited classic characteristics of suspected money laundering according to the so-called Fincen leaks.

Among the suspected customers are some the show says are connected to corrupt Russian politicians and organized crime, it said.

The claim comes after Uppdrag Granskning viewed U.S. suspicious activity reports that were filed by banks to the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as Fincen, that were recently leaked. The reports allegedly show that several global banks moved large sums of illicit funds, despite red flags about the origins of the money.

In response, SEB said in a statement Wednesday that the information presented by Uppdrag Granskning doesn't contain any news, as historical suspicious flows in SEB Estonia have been previously disclosed by the bank both publicly and in dialogue with financial supervisory authorities.

"Regarding the transactions that are mentioned in the programme, of SEK8.2 billion, we note that SEB already during the autumn of 2019 published historical transactional data of 25.8 billion euros ($30 billion, about SEK260 billion) in total of so-called low-transparency customers in Estonia from 2005 to 2018," the bank said.

In the past 10 years, SEB said it has filed more than 7,000 suspicious activity reports to financial intelligence units from its Baltic operations.

"There are no perfect systems, but we continuously work to improve our abilities to prevent, detect and report suspicious activity, and that work will never end," it said.

Uppdrag Granskning was first to report last year that billions of dollars of illicit funds might have passed through Swedbank AB's Estonian branch, and also claimed that it had found about 194 clients at SEB that it suspected of using the bank to launder money through Swedish and Baltic accounts.

Both banks were subsequently investigated by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority and found to lack sufficient anti-money-laundering governance, controls and resources at their Baltic subsidiaries. The FSA fined Swedbank SEK4 billion and SEB SEK1 billion.

The FSA last week opened a fresh probe into Swedbank for suspected breaches of market-abuse regulations.

 

Write to Dominic Chopping at dominic.chopping@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 23, 2020 04:18 ET (08:18 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.