194 customers linked to SEB money laundering suspicion, most from Estonia

SEB headquarters in Tallinn.
SEB headquarters in Tallinn. Source: ERR

SEB announced that it has received a list of 194 corporate names concerning potential money laundering from Sveriges Television (STV) investigative news program Uppdrag granskning, and a majority of the names on the list are historical customer relations from Estonia.

SEB said it has compared the names with the bank's internal analysis, which has served as the basis for the assessment and comments that the bank has made concerning the Baltic operations. The names on the list from SVT are, in all material respects, covered by the bank's own analysis, and do not change the bank's fundamental assessment, SEB said in a press release.

"The names on the list from Sveriges Television have previously been handled, and approximately 95 percent of these customer relations are terminated," the bank said. "When SEB has detected suspended activities, it has been reported to relevant financial supervisory authorities. A few clients still have engagements with SEB. SEB's assessment is that those remaining customers meet the bank's criteria, and with the information that SEB has about the customers today, there has been no reason to terminate these customer relations. SEB works continuously to ensure that its customers live up to the bank's requirements."

According to the bank, a majority of the names on the list are historical customer relations from Estonia.

"In 2006, SEB Estonia received criticism and recommendations from the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority for its handling of non-resident customers," SEB noted. "At the same time, SEB received information from an external whistleblower." The bank noted that both of these events resulted in SEB Estonia strengthening its routines, reporting a number of clients to the financial supervisory authorities and terminating several customer relationships.

"Although SEB has historically lived up to regulatory requirements, with today's knowledge, we can conclude that neither regulations nor the banking system's ability have been efficient enough to handle the risks of money laundering prior to 2008," SEB said. "Since then, SEB's ability to prevent, detect and report suspected financial crime has increased over time. Regulations have been tightened, awareness increased, and the bank's routines, processes and systems improved."

It is doing its utmost to prevent the bank being used for financial crime, the bank stressed. Nevertheless, it continued, SEB cannot guarantee that it has not been used nor that SEB will not be used for money laundering.

"If new relevant information emerges that was previously unknown to SEB, SEB will take action," the bank stressed. "SEB wants to provide everyone who follows the bank equal, correct and transparent information. SEB has no further knowledge of any content that might emerge in Sveriges Television's program Uppdrag gransknning."

A money laundering scandal broke out around SEB last week as the bank was contacted by SVT's Uppdrag granskning, which claimed that they have investigated money laundering in the Baltics and SEB is also involved in it.

Estonia's Financial Supervision Authority (FSA) announced last Friday that it was conducting on-site inspections at SEB into the bank's organizational structure and the systems and checks therein with the intent of identifying transactions where money laundering is suspected. The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority likewise conducted checks at SEB in Sweden.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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