According to Olavi Lepp, chairman of the management board of Swedbank Estonia, it is unlikely that fines resulting from the US investigation into money laundering will be directed into the Estonian state budget.
"I am not the appropriate person to assess that likelihood, as I have information that cannot be disclosed here," Lepp said on ETV politics discussion show "Esimene stuudio" on Wednesday. "But in some ways, the ambition of the Estonian state remains questionable. What is to be achieved?"
"I find it unlikely that the Estonian state receives some money from the investigation. But I also understand the state that wants to take some action," he added.
Last autumn, United States authorities announced they will launch an investigation into money laundering scandals concerning Estonia. Last October, Finance Minister Martin Helme attended the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and also visited an international law office in New York to ensure that Estonia receives proceeds from penalties imposed on lenders.
In March, the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority (FSA) issued a ruling to Swedbank AS to take measures to improve its anti-money laundering risk control systems as they have not been in line with anti-money laundering requirements. FSA's Swedish counterpart issued Swedbank a fine of 4 billion Swedish kronor, or approximately €360 million. Lepp said that Swedbank shall submit a plan on how the orders will be enforced on Friday.
Lepp also talked about the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak. "We are seeing first indications [of the crisis -ed.] in the forms of tax holidays and reduced turnovers. But the real impact? I would still say that if we look at March and April statistics we might not see it yet, but consumer behavior tells us the effects are here," Lepp said.
According to Lepp, Swedbank has approved the grace period applications of nearly 7,000 private persons in the amount of €162 million. The bank has also provided grace periods for 1,300 companies; the total volume of deferred loan payments is at €50 million and concerns loans issued in the amount of €821 million.
Editor: Anders Nõmm