January 7, 2022
Fraud Friday – Swedish Bank CEO Charged with Fraud over a Money Laundering Scandal
“The former CEO of the bank intentionally or through gross negligence … disseminated misleading information about the bank’s measures to prevent, detect, and report suspicions of money laundering in Swedbank’s operations in Estonia,” says lead prosecutor Thomas Langrot. “This has happened despite the fact that the former CEO had knowledge of unpublished information about extensive and serious shortcomings regarding the [Anti Money Laundering] processes and also information about extensive suspicious transactions/customers from a money laundering perspective in the Estonian business.”
The former CEO of one of the top Swedish lenders was charged with aggravated fraud, market manipulation, and unauthorized disclosure of inside information relating to a three-year-long money-laundering scandal. Birgitte Bonneson was fired in March 2019 from Swedbank following the allegations that the bank was engaging in money laundering. It is said that almost 40 billion kronor ($4.4 billion) worth of suspicious transactions were occurring between Swedbank and Swedbank’s operations in Estonia.
Bonneson repeatedly claimed that the bank had no issues with its Anti Money Laundering controls from 2007 to 2018. It was found that she had access to unpublished information about “extensive and serious shortcomings” in the system and knowledge of “extensive suspicious transactions and customers”. She is accused of breaking the law after downplaying the concerns with their money laundering controls. The lead prosecutor claims there is evidence of a cover-up to prevent Swedbank’s problems from reaching the market and public.
Though the market manipulation charge is not the focus of the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, there was a major price drop in Swedbank share prices after all the money laundering revelations came to light.
Swedbank accepted a fine of 4 billion kronor ($390 million) following an independent investigation from Clifford Chance, a law firm. Birgitte was originally given severance pay, but following the Clifford Chance investigation and their findings, Swedbank canceled her severance pay.