The former CEO of Swedbank has been charged with fraud and market manipulation, and has become the highest-ranking Swedish banker involved in a widespread money laundering scandal in the Baltic countries.
Birgitte Bonnesen has repeatedly disseminated misleading information indicating that Swedbank had no money laundering problems in its Estonian operations, Thomas Langrot, chief prosecutor at Sweden’s economic crime authority, Said Tuesday.
Bonnesen was in charge of Sweden’s oldest bank from 2016 until she was fired by his board in 2019. She was previously in charge of his Baltic business.
Swedbank and Denmark’s largest lender, Danske Bank, are both still under criminal and civil investigation by US authorities for money laundering scandals in which hundreds of billions of euros in high-risk payments flowed through their branches in the Baltic countries.
An official report by the law firm Clifford Chance, commissioned by Swedbank, found that the bank carried out € 37 billion in high-risk money laundering transactions between 2014 and 2019. An internal Swedbank report, seen by the public broadcaster SVT, found some € 80 billion of money flowed through the bank’s non-resident client business in the Baltic countries from 2008 to 2013, most of it from Russia and other former Soviet states.
Swedbank canceled Bonnesen’s severance pay in March 2020 after the Clifford Chance report ruled that statements she made at the end of 2018 and early 2019 while the scandal was developing were “inaccurate or presented without sufficient context” .
But it decided not to file a lawsuit of its own against Bonnesen or her predecessor Michael Wolf, who was in charge from 2009 to 2016.
Bonnesen told journalists in October 2018 that he contained a confidential internal report on Swedbank’s transactions with Danske – then under the spotlight for its own € 200 billion money laundering scandal.nothingIn the path of warning signs.
“Now we have gone through everything and we have completed this review because there is nothing,” she said, according to a transcript of the meeting. “I know it is very boring, because I have the feeling that you think it is difficult that we have nothing. But, you know, we went through all the names you saw in the media and in the Danske report – none of them were customers of Swedbank. ”
Langrot said there was evidence of a “cover-up” to try to stop Swedbank’s money laundering problems.
A Bonnesen lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. In February, he told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri that Bonnesen did not commit any crime, but merely answered questions from the media honestly.