Nordea caught up in record US fraud

Nordea caught up in record US fraud
Sweden’s Nordea bank found itself among the many financial institutions affected by American Bernard Madoff’s multi-billion dollar pyramid scheme, it emerged on Monday.

A spokesperson for the bank told the Reuters news agency that the US financier’s fraud had indirectly left Nordea with an exposure worth €48 million ($65 million).

“It is not [an exposure] directly to him, but through a fund called Fairfield Sentry,” Nordea spokesperson Helena Östman told Reuters on Monday.

Östman characterized the exposure as “extremely marginal” for the Nordic region’s largest bank and remained uncertain as to whether or not the entire sum would be lost.

She explained to the TT news agency that the exposure, which is spread across pension savings funds in four countries, amounts to about 0.2 percent of a combined €25 billion in pension assets.

Other European banks found themselves in much worse shape on the heels of revelations that Madoff had defrauded investors of tens of billions of dollars over several years though an elaborate Ponzi scheme in which money from new investors went to pay off earlier investors.

Spain’s largest bank, Banco Santander, lost around €2.3 billion through its Optimal investment fund, which was involved in dealings with Madoff’s investment firm.

In France, officials with BNP Paribas fear the bank may stand to lose up to €350 million through trades and loans to hedge funds.

In addition, the Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC may also be caught up in the scandal.

Madoff was arrested last Thursday on suspicions of fraud, at which point the 70-year-old Wall Street veteran admitted his losses may top $50 billion.