UPDATE 1-Internal 2018 Swedbank report showed $10 bln in ‘suspicious’ Baltic transfers – SVT


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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – An internal Swedbank report showed last September some $10 billion of transactions between “suspicious” customers of Swedbank and Danske Bank in the Baltics between 2007-2015, Swedish state television SVT said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Swedbank’s logo is pictured on its Lithuanian headquarters in Vilnius, Lithuania, in this May 10, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

Swedbank said the TV report figure – which is more than double the number SVT reported previously – referred to the gross amount of transactions between the two banks reviewed in its initial analysis and that following the review it took action where suspicious activity was identified, including reporting activities to the police.

Several European and overseas banks have been dragged into a scandal at Denmark’s Danske Bank, which centres on suspicious transactions totaling 200 billion euros ($226 billion) originating in Russia and elsewhere that flowed through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

“As we have repeated many times, we act on different signals. Therefore, it was natural for us to act when the disclosures about Danske Bank came out on the market,” Swedbank said in a statement responding to the media report.

“In the analysis last year, we looked at both current and former customers in the Baltic countries … In many cases, there was no need to act further, but in some cases we proceeded with, among other things, reports to the finance police,” it said.

Swedbank shares were down 2.5 percent at 171.80 Swedish crowns at 0822 GMT.

The lender is the subject of a joint probe by Swedish and Estonian financial watchdogs after an SVT report in February tied it to at least 40 billion Swedish crowns ($4.3 billion) of suspicious transactions through Denmark’s largest bank.

Since that report, CEO Birgitte Bonnesen has said she has confidence in Swedbank’s anti-money laundering procedures and argued the bank reported to authorities suspicious transactions identified over the years.

The bank has declined to comment on the data in the original report or a consequent criminal complaint by Bill Browder, an investor who campaigns to expose corruption, saying it can not comment on details due to Swedish banking secrecy laws.

Swedbank said on Friday it had shared its internal report, which covered an in-depth analysis of about 2,000 customers throughout the Baltic countries, with the Swedish watchdog.

The bank, which has 900,000 private and 130,000 corporate customers in Estonia, also said that based on last year’s transactions flagged by its anti-money laundering systems, it had made four notifications per day to the Estonian finance police.

The Swedish watchdog and Danske did not reply immediately with a comment. The Estonian watchdog declined to comment.

Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Kim Coghill and Mark Potter


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