Pension funds criticise Swedbank money-laundering report
A long-awaited report from one of Sweden’s main banks into money-laundering allegations has been dismissed as inadequate by two of the country’s biggest pension funds.
Swedbank today published a redacted report from a forensic accountancy firm it hired to look into allegations initially made by Swedish national broadcaster SVT in a documentary.
The SVT documentary alleged that SEK40bn (€3.8bn) may have been laundered through Swedbank and Danske Bank’s branch in Estonia, the latter of which is now the subject of investigations in several countries.
In response, Alecta and AMF – the country’s first and third biggest pension funds by assets under management – both indicated they expected more from the report.
AMF, which owns 4.4% of shares in the bank, described the report as “a first step” in answering the most acute allegations.
Johan Sidenmark AMF’s chief executive added: “However, we had expected more, and our assessment is that more is needed to strengthen confidence in the bank.”
Alecta, the third-largest shareholder in Swedbank with a stake of around 5%, said: “Neither the report presented this morning nor the proposed continuation lives up to our expectations.”
The Swedish Shareholders’ Association has also expressed dissatisfaction with the Swedbank-commissioned report, describing it as “totally incomplete”, adding that it raised more questions than it answered.
In a press release accompanying the report – which has many words and figures blacked out – Swedbank said its president and chief executive Birgitte Bonnesen would remain in her job, and that it would carry out a more thorough review into the matter “in co-operation with the relevant authorities”.
Swedbank chair Lars Idermark said: “After reviewing the FRA update, the board confirms its continued confidence in the CEO and her ability to lead and manage the bank’s work in the fight against money laundering.”
He said the bank took its anti-money laundering responsibilities very seriously, and was focused on continuously improving its ability to fight financial crime.
”The board of directors is committed to making available all resources that the management requires to continue this important work,” Idermark said.
Other Swedbank shareholders
Sweden’s four main state pension buffer funds also have significant investments in Swedbank.
According to shareholding lists, AP3 had SEK1.9bn or 0.87% of the bank’s voting capital. AP2 had SEK1.5bn of Swedbank equity at the end of last year, representing a 0.66% stake in the bank.
AP1 held SEK774.5m of shares, and AP4 had SEK738m invested in the bank.
A spokeswoman for AP2 said the fund had no comment on the latest development. The other three funds did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Folksam, the second-largest shareholder in Swedbank with a 7% stake, was more satisfied with the report than the other pension funds, saying: “The status report gives us answers to important questions.”
Swedbank said that, while it had decided to make the report public, it was subject to redactions in accordance with applicable laws and information security. Consequently, the report censored all relevant figures and names relating to potentially suspicious transactions.