Swedish broadcaster alleges SEB is linked to money laundering and Magnitsky affair

Swedish public broadcaster SVT said on Wednesday that around 194 customers of

Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken

AB is believed to have used the bank to launder money through Swedish and Baltic accounts, with around 475 million Swedish kronor ($ 49.4 million) linked to the Magnitsky case.

Tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in a Russian prison in 2009 after accusing tax officials of siphoning money from the company he worked for, Hermitage Capital. It was the largest foreign investment fund in Russia at the time and Mr Magnitsky accused Russian tax authorities of embezzling $ 230 million from the company.

In its latest episode of the Uppdrag Granskning investigative show, SVT said the suspicious customers it identified were responsible for around 2,000 transactions that triggered “red flags”. Additionally, SVT said around 150 of the customers are in countries such as the British Virgin Islands, Belize and Panama, while 87 share recognizable addresses in previous money laundering operations.

“In our comprehensive analysis of our business in the Baltic States, we did not see that SEB has been used for money laundering in a systematic manner,” said SEB Managing Director Johan Torgeby. , in a press release.

SEB also provided historical data showing the cash flows of non-residents in Estonia. He said that between 2005 and 2018, around 25.8 billion euros ($ 28.4 billion) entered and left his non-resident Estonian accounts receivable linked to poorly transparent clients, which would not meet the standards. current transparency standards.

“These flows cannot be equated with confirmed money laundering activity, but rather there is an increased risk of money laundering here,” the bank said.

SEB said last week that SVT had sent it the list of suspicious customers and that most of them were already known to the bank, 95% of the customer relationships mentioned having already been severed.

SEB had previously avoided being drawn into the money laundering scandal that involved Denmark

Danske Bank AS

and Swedbank from Sweden in surveys.

Swedish news show Uppdrag Granskning first reported in February that billions of dollars in illicit funds may have passed through Swedbank’s Estonian branch.

Denmark’s Danske Bank is also under investigation into allegations that around $ 230 billion in suspicious funds from Russia and other former Soviet states entered Europe through its branch in Estonia.

Information from SEB and claims from SVT point to the risk of a heavy fine for the bank, according to analysts at Kepler Cheuvreux. “However, the 25.8 billion euros associated with Estonian foreign customers classified as poorly transparent is a lower figure than allegedly for competitors Swedbank and Danske Bank,” the analysts wrote.

Write to Dominic Chopping at [email protected]

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