Sweden's SEB bank defends its Baltic record against fresh TV show revelations

Swedish SEB bank released a statement November 26 in which it outlined some of its transactional data for Estonia in recent years, adding that since 2006 it "has taken considerable measures in order to minimize the risk of being exploited for money laundering in the Baltics."

"We want to continue being transparent and have now presented our historical data for the Baltic region in more detail. We have been perceptive to signals of foul play and taken action, when needed. In the comprehensive analysis that we have made of our business in the Baltics, we have not seen that SEB has been used for money laundering in a systematic way. Still, at any given time, all banks are subjected to the risks that financial crime entail," said Johan Torgeby, President and CEO of SEB.  

"From 2006 and onwards, SEB has been working in a structured and determined way, in order to reduce the risk of being exploited in money laundering activities in the Baltic countries," the bank said.

It has also conducted a "comprehensive review" that covers the bank's customers, processes, risk culture, systems and transaction volumes during the period 2008-2018, it said.

"The review is part of the basis for the investigation conducted by Sweden's financial supervisory authority in collaboration with its Baltic counterparts," the bank said.

"If new relevant information that SEB has not been aware of before emerges, the bank will take action," it said.

SEB has been issuing a series of statements in response to and in anticipation of reports by Swedish Television that have questioned its record on money-laundering and possible involvement with the notorious Magnitsky affair, with which fellow Scandinavian banks Swedbank and Danske bank have already found themselves embroiled.

SVT’s Mission Investigate show reports that hundreds of accounts of businesses and individuals at SEB, including in the Baltic states, show clear warning signs of suspected money laundering – and that the bank was exposed to one of the best-known financial frauds of recent times: the Magnitsky affair.

You can read the latest SVT report in English online and watch the SVT video report with English subtitles too. It includes information that the names of several Latvian indivduals, notorious from the world of offshore shell companies, appear in the documents obtained by SVT. Latvia makes a picturesque appearance around 12 minutes into the film via infamous shell company names Eriks Vanagels and Stan Gorin.

"These are people who have either wittingly or unwittingly allowed their names to be used as the officers, shareholders, signatories for a massive number of companies,” says money laundering expert Graham Barrow.

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