Shares in the major Swedish bank Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB (SEB), have faced their biggest drop since the 2008 financial crisis. SEB’s stock price fell by over 12 per cent by lunchtime trading to €81, after it admitted that Sweden’s national broadcaster was preparing to include it in a programme on money laundering.
In recent years a number of high-profile Scandinavian banks have been implicated in money laundering investigations. Authorities have particularly focused on the significant flows of cash from Russia and several states in the Caucasus.
Frank Hojern, a spokesman for the bank, stated: “We haven’t received that much information yet, but they have said they will do a programme on suspected money laundering in the Baltics and in that context they have information regarding SEB.”
The value of SEB’s regional competitors Danske Bank and Swedbank has been devastated by their implication in money laundering through Estonia. Both banks are currently under investigation for allegedly funnelling €200bn ($220bn, £171bn) of dirty money from Russia and Azerbaijan into Europe.
Swedbank has also lost around 40 per cent of its market value since the allegations arose. If proved, the investigation would be the largest money laundering case in European history.
In October, three senior executives at Swedbank’s Estonian branch, including a former candidate for central bank governor, were fired. In September the former chief of Danske Bank’s Estonian branch committed suicide.
SEB is one of the oldest banks in Scandinavia and, along with Swedbank, dominates the Baltic region. Although founded and still controlled by the prominent Wallenberg family, 20 per cent of the bank is owned by investors. The head of corporate communications at SEB’s largest shareholder stated: “We have confidence in how SEB works and how it is dealing with these issues”.
SEB’s CEO has not commented on this latest development. However, in April this year he said he was “comfortable” with how the bank acted but could make no guarantees.
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