Sunday, January 17, 2021

Nordic and Baltic watchdogs plot grand data sharing deal after money laundering scandals

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Financial regulators in Nordic and Baltic states are mulling an in-depth data sharing agreement as they look to rebuild reputations damaged by a huge money laundering scandal.

Marius Jurgilas, a board member at the Bank of Lithuania, told Yahoo Finance UK that regulators from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are in talks about sharing transaction-level banking data as part of anti-money laundering efforts.

“We have to prove to the general public that we are not only speaking, we are doing things,” Jurgilas told Yahoo Finance UK at the Paris Blockchain Week summit on Tuesday.

The backdrop for the talks is a huge money laundering scandal that has engulfed the Nordic and Baltic states. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are hugely reliant on Nordic banks, which control up to 80% of the market in the Baltics. However, these Baltic branches proved to be weak spots when it came to money laundering.

Last year it emerged that the Estonian branch of Denmark’s Danske Bank had processed as much as €200bn of suspicious payments originating from Russia and former Soviet states.

Sweden’s Swedbank has faced similar issues. Its CEO was fired and its chairman resigned in recent weeks amid questions over transactions at its Baltic branches. Lithuania’s Ukio is said to be one of the counter-parties being looked at.

“Does it make us feel uncomfortable? Yes, of course, it makes us feel uncomfortable,” Jurgilas said. “But maybe all things happen for a reason and it will be a push for regulators in the region to create something better.

“Better is something that other jurisdictions don’t feel the need to create, which is sharing of data across the regulators, identifying illicit transactions by using transaction-level data across the region, and all of a sudden that region becomes the best ever in terms of risk management. This is exactly what we’re looking at.”

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