HQ appeals revoked banking license

HQ has appealed the decision to suspend the banking license for HQ Bank, which has forced it into liquidation and kept the bank closed on Tuesday.

HQ appeals revoked banking license

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 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HQ Bank’s license was withdrawn by the FSA after the bank took risks that were too great in its so-called trading operations.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.

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Five questions before buying a Sweden home

The Swedish financial watchdog recently scrapped plans for new mortgage rules, meaning you can still buy a home in Sweden and never pay off the full loan. Here's The Local's guide to the five main things you need to know before taking your first step on to the property ladder in the Nordic country.

Five questions before buying a Sweden home
Here's what you need to know before buying a home in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/SCANPIX

1. Can I afford a home in Sweden?

With its chilly winter climate and famously expensive restaurants, Sweden might not seem like the obvious place to move to or buy a holiday home in. But Johan Vesterberg, head of press for Sweden's largest estate agent, Fastighetsbyrån recently told The Local that with just a €100,000 budget (£72,000, $106,009, 933,210 kronor) “you can find a decent property in most parts of the country, it will just be a question of size”, especially if you stay away from the coast and avoid the nation's major cities. And with record-low interest rates, now is the time to strike.

While in many other countries the rules of borrowing are quite simple (letting you borrow, say, up to five times your salary), in Sweden it's a bit more complicated with many factors involved.

Here's a quick example though, according to SBAB's (the nation's state-owned mortgage broker) mortgage calculator. Say you wanted to buy a 50-130 square metre house in Stockholm municipality and were able to pay 10,000 kronor towards it a month (including paying off your mortgage, housing association fees and utilities costs), you would be able to borrow 1,812,254 kronor (85 percent of the property's value) to buy a home for approximately 2,132,064 kronor, paying a cash deposit for the remaining 15 percent.

However, it is not an exact science and you should always discuss potential property purchases with your bank manager or lawyer first.

Swedish dream homes are cheaper than you think. Photo: Johan Willner/

2. How does the viewing process work?

If you're looking for a home in the Gothenburg, Malmö or Stockholm areas, make sure you approach estate agents as soon as you're thinking of buying. Rising prices and high demand for apartments in Sweden's three largest cities have led to a growing number of properties being sold without public viewings, according to a survey carried out by SBAB.

The shift brings Sweden closer to the approach favoured in other European countries such as the UK, where customers in property hotspots are often granted private viewings. However, the most common approach in Sweden is still for potential customers to attend an open house viewing before they submit their bids for the property.

3. How do I win the bidding war?

Via text message. Yes, you read that right. In tech-savvy Sweden, the bidding process is often done by sending the amount you're willing to pay for the property in an SMS to the property agent until your fellow prospective buyers back out and a price is agreed on.

Rent a home in Sweden with The Local

In many parts of the world, the seller sets the price and then negotiates with potential buyers, with the final price landing somewhere in the middle. In Sweden, buyers try to outbid each other – often resulting in a windfall for the seller. Make sure you meet with your bank beforehand to agree on how high you are able to go as there are no legal regulations on these bidding wars, which tend to push costs well above the asking price – especially in attractive city regions. Tor Borg, chief economist at SBAB told The Local that his main advice for customers was to “keep your head calm and don't get engaged in offering a price that you cannot afford”.

READ MORE: One in five flats sold before viewing starts

The whole process is usually lightning fast. Bidding starts just days after the public viewing and, if the final price is satisfactory to the seller, the deal can be closed within the week. Before you know it, you're a home owner and a member of a 'bostadsrättsförening', a Swedish housing association.

4. What exactly does a housing association do?

When you buy a home in Sweden, especially if it is an apartment, you are likely to become a member of the tenant-owner association which formally owns the building. You have to pay a monthly fee to the association, which can have a huge effect on your living costs, so don't forget to check how much it is before you buy.

The housing association manages things like maintenance, the building's finances and other issues that might arise. It appoints a board of directors to represent the organization at the annual meeting of members, which are notorious for their wild debates on everything from large building renovations to finding out who forgot to remove the fluff from the dryer in the common laundry room.

The process from finding a home to buying it is lightning fast. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/SCANPIX

5. How do I pay off my mortgage?

In Sweden, house buyers usually need to be able to pay at least 15 percent of the cost up front, with mortgage providers offering a loan of up to 85 percent of the value of the property. You can choose how fast you would like to pay off your loan. 

Mortgages account for 95 percent of Swedes' total debt, and borrowers currently hold a mortgage debt 3.7 times higher than their annual income. Up until recently mortgage holders did not have to pay off their loan, but Sweden has now created a rule that they must 'amortize', as the concept of repaying your loan in increments is known, after concerns that Swedes were accumulating debts they could never repay.

Let The Local help you find an apartment in Sweden.

Check out our property rental section