Prosecutor Berndt Berger hopes to make a decision on a possible criminal investigation this week. Trading has halted on shares.
HQ has appealed the Financial Supervisory Authority’s (Finansinspektionen, FSA) decision to withdraw its license to conduct banking activities. HQ’s information director Eric Amcoff told DI.se that the appeal was submitted early on Tuesday morning before the liquidator took over.
“I can only say that we have received it today and we will keep on watching it right now,” said Anna Maria Åslund-Nilsson, city court judge of administrative law in Stockholm, regarding HQ’s appeal. “I cannot say any more right now.”
When asked when the court would make a decision, Åslund-Nilsson told news agency TT, “We will clearly be rather fast. By its very nature, we will insist on it. It will not be today, but probably this week.”
The closure of the bank, which was decided by liquidator Björn Riese, has provoked fierce criticism because investors cannot acccess their money. Riese has defended the decision, saying he needs to familiarise himself with the situation.
“The liquidator’s role is to dismantle the bank, but the bank must preserve its agreement with its 20,000 savers such that they can withdraw their money whenever they want,” said Claes Hemberg, an economist at Avanza Bank.
“Certainly, one can wait to withdraw cash, but the stock market is falling and those who want to sell or transfer shares need to do it,” he said. “It is savers’ money that the liquidator has stuffed away into the freezer, money that goes to waste when the bank stays closed.”
However, in a press release, HQ Bank wrote that it is carrying on certain activities. However, it would be too great a strain on liquidity to reopen the bank.
In plain language, it means that the liquidator, in consultation with the FSA, is simply concerned that depositors would withdraw their money as long as it is not clear to any new owner.
HQ Bank’s license was withdrawn by the FSA after the bank took risks that were too great in its so-called trading operations. Berger of the Swedish Economic Crime Authority (Ekobrottsmyndigheten) had barely begun his investigation into the events in the morning.
“I received the inquiry on my desk yesterday afternoon and because of all the media calls, I have barely even begun at all,” he said. “I hope that by the end of the week, I can determine whether a preliminary inquiry should be initiated or not, and if so, for what.”
He added, “Even if comes down to launching an investigation, I will not say who it is against.”
Regarding Dagens Industri’s report on specific criminal charges, Berger said, “I will not go into that. Since I have not yet acquainted myself with the investigation, it would be wrong for me to air my views on the headlines.”
The Economic Crime Authority has on its own initiative requested the FSA’s investigation into HQ Bank. Trading on HQ shares’ was halted on the Stockholm Stock Exchange before the opening of Tuesday’s session.
Riese is also continuing to look for new owners, which is one of the primary objectives of his work. He now assumes that all stakeholders have made themselves known, but there is “not yet a business structure from the shareholder level.”
“Efforts to reach such progress were under way even early on Tuesday – to unequivocally clarify whether there is a actual opportunity now to reach an offer for HQ Bank,” the bank wrote.