Friday, January 21, 2022

Swedbank ex-CEO faces fraud charges over Baltic scandal

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Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority said on Tuesday it had charged former Swedbank CEO Birgitte Bonnesen with gross fraud stemming from a Baltic money laundering scandal.

The 65-year-old Danish-born former CEO was also charged on a secondary count of serious market manipulation, the authority said in a statement.

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“The crime consists of the former CEO of the bank spreading misleading information, intentionally or through serious negligence, amongst the general public or the company’s stakeholders, on the bank’s measures to prevent, uncover, avoid and report suspicions of money laundering in Swedbank’s operations in Estonia,” Chief Prosecutor Thomas Langrot said.

Bonnesen’s lawyer Per E Samuelson said he was convinced she was innocent and would be acquitted.

“It’s important to see that the prosecutor is not saying she did anything for her own benefit. She has not bought or sold one single share,” he told Reuters.

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No trial date was announced.

Swedbank said last year it would not file claims for damages against its former top executive and board for the fiscal year 2019, when the Swedish banking group was placed under investigation over money-laundering breaches in the Baltics.

Swedbank was fined 4 billion crowns ($438.6 million) in 2020 by Sweden’s financial watchdog for serious deficiencies in its anti-money-laundering work and for withholding information from authorities investigating its role in the scandal, which also implicated Denmark’s Danske Bank.

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