Swedish SEB Bank Fined for Poor Anti-Money-Laundering Measures

Published: 29 June 2020

SEB Bank SwedenSweden's Financial Inspection fined SEB Bank for loose AML measures. (Photo: SEB Group)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Sweden’s SEB bank has to pay a SEK1 billion (US$107 million) administrative fine for failing to provide adequate anti-money laundering (AML) measures in its subsidiaries in Baltic countries, Swedish financial watchdog announced last week.

The bank was involved in a massive money laundering scandal that first engulfed Denmark's largest lender, Danske Bank, whose Estonian branch was found to have processed suspicious transactions worth billions of dollars. Some of the funds allegedly belonged to Russian money launderers.

Sweden’s Financial Inspection started probing SEB in 2015 in coordination with authorities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The investigation was wrapped up in 2019 and showed that “SEB’s subsidiary banks in the Baltics have been exposed to an elevated risk of money laundering.”

Investigators concluded that “customers with a higher risk of money laundering,” had made a “substantial portion of the subsidiary banks’ business volumes and transactions,” a statement from the Financial Inspection said.

Therefore, the “bank has had deficiencies in identifying and managing the risk of money laundering associated with some of their non-resident customers and resident customers with non-resident owners,” according to FI.

“The bank has done too little, too late,” the FI’s Director General, Erik Thedéen said.

SEB bank said it will now analyse the country’s financial watchdog’s decision.

“We always strive to adhere to current regulations and our high internal standards, and we continuously develop the bank’s abilities to prevent, detect and report suspected money laundering and other types of financial crime,” SEB’s President and CEO Johan Torgeby said reacting to FI’s sanctions.

That work, he added, “is of highest priority and will never end, not least since crime constantly finds new ways.”