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Opinion

AML: Record fine gives Swedbank a chance to move on

Proof of the Swedish supervisor’s mettle raises questions about the Danish response to money laundering.

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Jens Henriksson, CEO of Swedbank, comments on the final report on the bank's money laundering during a news conference at the bank's head office in Sundbyberg on March 23



A fine levied against Swedbank for money-laundering deficiencies of SEK4 billion (€360 million) on March 19 is far bigger than any Scandinavian financial supervisor has ever levied before.

The only such penalty that has been bigger anywhere Europe is a €775 million ING settlement in the Netherlands in 2018. It proves that European anti-money laundering (AML) regulators are finally catching up with the huge fines the US has imposed.

It also gives the impression that Sweden is trying hard to mend the reputation of its banking sector after a series of Nordic money-laundering scandals, which the local supervisor Finansinspektionen at first wrongly insisted would not touch Sweden.

In a country with relatively little enthusiasm for closer European integration, it might even suggest a new European AML agency is not so urgent, after all, and that national supervisors in northern Europe can be trusted to properly deal with their banks.

The unusual size of the fine is, one hopes, down to the bigger volume of flows, rather than the attention it has received.




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