All transactions of Swedbank’s shares were suspended on 29 March after the company’s CEO Birgitte Bonnesen was dismissed after the bank became embroiled in a €135 billion money laundering scandal.
As the investigation is ongoing, the head of the Swedish Shareholders’ Association demanded the resignation of the entire board. Over the last six weeks, Swedbank has lost a third of its market value.
Bonnesen told the Swedish daily Expressen that she was proud of everything she had done for Swedbank and said she hadn’t made any mistakes. Bonnesen’s defiance is particularly surprising, Before becoming Swedbank’s CEO, she served as chief audit executive (2009- 2011) and oversaw the bank’s anti-money laundering policy. Swedbank’s board credits Bonnesen with making Swedbank a significant digital player with a physical presence.
Last week, the Swedish public broadcaster published extracts from an internal Swedbank report that showed €135 billion of high-risk non-resident money, mostly from Russia, flowing through the lender’s Estonian operations from 2008 until 2018.
Among the several high-profile clients was the pro-Russian former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, who used the account to pay his former campaign manager Paul Manafort before the latter took on the same job for the Trump campaign.
The same money-laundering scandal has also rattled two more Swedish systemic banks, namely SEB and Handelsbanken.
An investigation by US regulators on money-laundering of hundreds of billions of Euros has now spread to Germany, Finland, Norway Estonia, and Latvia. Denmark’s Danske Bank faces potential lawsuits, fines and sanctions after admitting last year that some €200 billion of suspicious payments were channelled through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.