Former board of Swedbank handed suspicions of money laundering

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Swedbank.
Swedbank. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Weekly Eesti Ekspress writes that the prosecution has brought official suspicions against Swedbank Estonia and its former board members of involvement in money laundering in the volume of over €100 million. The bank reports that the suspicions concern transactions made in 2014-2016.

The Office of the Prosecutor General has brought suspicions of facilitating money laundering against Priit Perens (CEO of Swedbank Estonia in 2008-2015), Robert Kitt (member of the board 2011-2019, successor of Perens as CEO), Ulla Illison (member of the board 2011-2017, head of customer service), Heiki Raadik (member of the board 2011-2017), Vaiko Tammeväli (member of the board 2011-2019, director of corporate banking), Rait Pallo (member of the board 2011-2017, head of credit and operational risk), Kaie Metsla (member of the board 2015-2019, director of private banking), Toomas Tuulin (former head of the anti-money laundering department) and Aleksei Averson (former account manager).

"Yes, law enforcement has gotten in touch with me," Priit Perens told the weekly, adding that it is too soon to comment before more details are revealed. The former CEO said that he always made his decisions based on the law and supervision norms and following advice from experts.

Perens' successor Robert Kitt said that while suspicions have been brought, he believes he has done nothing wrong. "It is true that investigative organs have contacted me regarding my work at Swedbank in 2011-2019," Kitt said.

Kitt also said that it is too soon to comment in greater detail and assured that he always followed the law and the recommendations of the watchdog in his work. "During the three years since I left Swedbank, external and internal audits have found no violations," he added.

The Central Criminal Police has been investigating Swedbank since 2019, with episodes of money laundering in question tied to former Russian open governance minister Mikhail Abyzov who has been found guilty and sentenced to prison for embezzling four million rubles. The transactions in question total over €100 million and took place in 2014-2016.

Eesti Ekspress' information suggests no former Swedbank board member has admitted wrongdoing.

Suspicions against Swedbank leaders do not suggest they personally profited from facilitating money laundering, with sources suggesting that some board members did not know who Abyzov was, while others served on a committee that discussed opening non-resident accounts. Money tied to Abyzov passed through the bank through a network of various companies.

The Office of the Prosecutor General told ERR that suspicions have been brought but added that no further details can be divulged at this time. The investigation is headed by public prosecutor Sigrid Nurm.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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