Swedish financial authority opens sanction case in SEB investigation

SEB graph showing non-resident money flows, as well as
SEB graph showing non-resident money flows, as well as "low transparency" volumes, at SEB Estonia 2005-2018. Source: SEB

The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) is opening a sanction case related to both its investigation into Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB's (SEB) governance, as well as a check of anti-money laundering (AML) measures the bank's subsidiaries in the Baltic States use.

The decision on opening the sanction case is itself part of the FSA investigation process, BNS reports, with the FSA's consideration that there is sufficient grounds for assessing whether to press forward with a sanction, or to close the investigation in another way, being key.

The FSA is to continue to analyze the circumstances and legal issues until reaching the next step in the sanction process, according to BNS, after which the authority will write a formal letter to SEB outlining its observations and any legal grounds for considering intervention.

The letter will also request the bank's opinion on the matter, the FSA said on Wednesday.

The Swedish FSA will announce the outcome of the sanction case in the SEB investigation in April 2020, BNS reports, a month after it is set to do the same for another Swedish bank, Swedbank.

In late November media reports said potentially suspicious transactions worth tens of billions of euros passed through Swedish bank SEB's Estonian arm in the period 2005-2018. As with the other two high-profile money laundering cases to affect Estonian branches of Scandinavian banks in recent years, Swedbank and

This followed an approach to SEB from Swedish public broadcaster SVT, which claimed it has information concerning potential money laundering activities.

In March, an internal report by Swedbank revealed that around €135 billion in high-risk money moved through the bank's Estonian branch over a 10-year period. SVT also played a role in bringing this information to public attention.

The time period roughly coincided with the €160 billion in potentially illicit funds thought to have passed through Danske Estonia, which is to shut its doors in October, between 2007 and 2015.

The investigation into SEB is being conducted in cooperation with the supervisory authorities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, with coordination in activities and sharing information and assets ongoing.

SEB also announced on Wednesday that it had received information from the Swedish FSA concerning the sanction evaluation process, as a part of the ongoing supervisory review, adding it had not received the preliminary assessment behind the evaluation.

"The bank has not received the FSA's preliminary assessment that has led to the evaluation. SEB works in full transparency with the FSA," SEB said in a press release.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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