Saturday, May 15, 2021

Swedbank declines to sue ex-CEO and board over money laundering violations in Baltics

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Swedbank said on Thursday it had resolved not to file claims for damages against its former top executive and board for the fiscal year 2019, when the Swedish banking group came under investigation over money-laundering breaches in the Baltics.

The lender’s share price collapsed by a third in 2019 as it stumbled from denial to admission of wrongdoing amid a year of turmoil which claimed the job of ex-CEO Brigitte Bonnesen and brought scrutiny from U.S. authorities.

Swedbank was fined 4 billion Swedish crowns ($484 million) in March last year by Sweden’s financial watchdog for serious deficiencies in its anti-money-laundering work and for withholding information from authorities investigating its role in a scandal which also engulfed Danish peer Danske Bank.

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The bank said in a statement it had arrived at the decision not to seek damages after analysing various legal investigations into the matter which had shown that the likelihood of success with any law suit “was considered extremely low”.

“Not to sue is the best decision for the bank and for the bank’s owners,” Swedbank Chairman Goran Persson said. “A lawsuit would require a lot of time and resources over many years. The management and employees need to direct all their efforts going forward.”

The bank withdrew a compensation package due to Bonnesen last year, at which time Persson also touted the idea that the bank might seek damages from its former executives.

($1 = 8.2707 Swedish crowns)

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