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US investigates Baltic banks for money laundering



(Reuters) – The Ministry of Justice and the FBI are investigating SEB, Swedbank and Danske Bank over possible violations of US rules on money laundering, the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri reported on Tuesday and sent their shares lower.

Sweden had received a request for help from US authorities to investigate a Baltic money laundering scandal that has already led to local fines for Swedbank, Danske and SEB, the newspaper reported.

The banks were also investigated by the DOJ, FBI and federal police. as a federal prosecutor in New York over possible violations of anti-money laundering and fraud regulations, it added.

"We have previously announced, for example in connection with our latest quarterly report, that US authorities continue to investigate Swedbank's historical work against money laundering and historical disclosure of information," a spokeswoman for Swedbank said in response to the report on Tuesday.

SEB said it had received inquiries from US authorities but was not aware of any allegations against it.

Danske Bank was not immediately available for comment on the Dagens Industri report, which cited named sources.

The FBI and the Department of Justice did not immediately respond. on requests for comment.

"While all three banks have previously revealed ongoing AML investigations by US authorities," the FBI's involvement and "fraud" appear to be new, "Credit Suisse said in a note.

The share in all three banks was down, with Swedbank down by 7.7%, SEB 5.6% lower and Danske Bank down 3.3%.

Although local fines have been substantial, they can be dwarfed by the penalties received by the US authorities.

Deutsche Bank was fined $ 7.2 billion and Britain's Barclays $ 2 billion for the sale of toxic mortgage debt ahead of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

And this year, the US bank Wells Fargo agreed to pay $ 3 billion to solve criminal and civilian probes for fraudulent sales.

Baltic scandal

The scandal first arose in 201

8 when Danske admitted that suspicious payments totaling 200 billion euros (243 billion dollars) from Russia and elsewhere flowed through its branch in Estonia. Swedish kronor (477 million dollars) from the country's Finansinspektionen over shortcomings in its work against money laundering and for withholding information from authorities.

Swedbank lost a third of its market value in 2019.

SEB was fined SEK 1 billion for deficiencies in compliance and governance in relation. to combat money laundering in the Baltics.

Swedbank and SEB have both previously said that US authorities looked at their operations in the Baltic Sea, but did not provide further details.

Danske Bank said in its 2019 report that it was under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.


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