TALLINN – The Office of the Prosecutor General has brought suspicions against the banking unit of Swedbank Estonia and its former heads of participating in money laundering exceeding 100 million euros, the daily Postimees writes citing the weekly Eesti Ekspress.
Robert Kitt, who was a member of the management board of Swedbank in the period 2011-2019, told Postimees that he had followed the law in force and the recommendations given by the supervisory body in his activities during his time on the management board of Swedbank. He confirmed that he is aware of the prosecutor's office's suspicion. "I have received the paper," he said.
Swedbank Estonia did not wish to comment on the suspicions. "We have nothing to comment on or confirm," Karin Laurima, Swedbank's media manager, said.
The prosecutor's office also refused to provide further comments on what is happening. "The Office of the Prosecutor General and the Central Criminal Police initiated criminal proceedings in 2019 to investigate the suspected money laundering at Swedbank, and several actions have been taken since then. The suspicion relates to money laundering committed in 2014-2016, but we emphasize that it is a suspicion. We are gathering evidence to find out all the facts, including questioning the suspects. It is not possible at this time to publish more detailed information on the proceedings," Kauri Sinkevicius, spokesperson for the prosecutor's office, said.
Swedbank AB announced on Thursday that the Estonian arm of the bank has been informed by the special investigator of white-collar crime at the Estonian Central Criminal Police that it is suspected of money laundering during the period 2014-2016.
The criminal investigation originates from the work of the Estonian Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) that investigated Swedbank AS during 2019. The FSA investigation was concluded with a report and a precept in March 2020, regarding shortcomings in the anti-money laundering work of Swedbank Estonia AS.
The prosecutor's office and the Central Criminal Police initiated criminal proceedings against Swedbank in July 2019 to investigate possible money laundering and possible submission of false information to the Financial Supervision Authority (FSA) from 2011 to 2017. A number of procedural acts have since been conducted.
Swedbank AB, parent company of Swedbank Estonia, announced on March 15 that its Estonian operation has been named as a suspect in money laundering and the investigation will determine if money laundering or any other criminal activities have taken place at Swedbank AS.
The Swedish and Estonian FSAs have uncovered in the course of a joint investigation that Swedbank has had major shortcomings in the Baltic states in terms of complying with anti-money laundering rules. Swedbank AB was issued a warning and a fine of four billion Swedish kronor, or 360 million euros, was meted out to the bank.
From 2007 to 2015, Swedbank took part in laundering some 40 billion Swedish kronor, or four billion euros' worth of dirty money in the Baltics, according to Swedish public broadcaster SVT.