Swedish banks ‘make life easy for terrorists’

Sweden’s financial watchdog has hit two of Sweden’s biggest banks, Nordea and Handelsbanken, with heavy fines for their failure to prevent money laundering.

Swedish banks 'make life easy for terrorists'
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT
Nordea received a maximum 50 million kronor ($6 million) fine due to the “high probability that if people have tried to launder money or finance terrorism that they could have done so without Nordea having been able to detect this,” the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen — FI) said. 
Handelsbanken “has not conducted risk assessments for all of its customers or obtained sufficient information about customers and their business relations”, FI said. The watchdog ordered the bank to pay a 35-million kronor fine. 
More than 100 billion kronor are laundered in Sweden every year, the watchdog said. 

“It is extremely important that this societal problem is counteracted by banks doing what they can to prevent criminals from laundering gains from criminal activities or organisations and people from financing terrorism.” 

SEE ALSO: Banking terrorism funding inquiry starts in Sweden 

Nordea has not complied with the rules for several years, according to FI. 

The Nordic banking giant had not evaluated risks associated with different customer groups and was often unaware whether it even had any high risk customers. 

The financial watchdog also slammed as “extremely substandard” the bank’s automatic system for checking transactions. 

FI said the bank had received a “remark” and was fined in 2013 for similar deficiences but its failure to do anything to properly counteract money laundering meant it was now facing an official warning and the highest possible fine. 


Systems put in place by Handelsbanken were also deficient and meant the bank “ran a high risk of being used by people to launder money or finance terrorism.”


Swedish banking giant sacks its top boss

Sweden's Handelsbanken has fired its chief executive, Frank Vang-Jensen.

Swedish banking giant sacks its top boss
Frank Vang-Jensen. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

He will be replaced by Anders Bouvin, who will take up the position with immediate effect, the bank said in a statement. 

The board of the bank decided unanimously to let Vang-Jensen go after just a year and a half in the post. 

“This decision is purely related to the individual. Handelsbanken remains strong and our long-term goals stand firm,” said board chairman Pär Boman. 

He added that the post required a “special type of leadership”.

“Thus, it is possible to be an excellent leader and manager – as Frank Vang-Jensen has been – but not fulfil the requirements of CEO of Handelsbanken.” 

His successor, Anders Bouvin, has been Executive Vice President since 2002. He was posted in New York and Denmark before most recently heading up the bank’s operation in the UK.  

“Anders Bouvin has worked at Handelsbanken for more than 30 years and is totally familiar with the Bank’s working methods, culture and values. For the past ten years, he has worked at Handelsbanken in the UK, where he has built up a national branch network with stable finances, good profitability – and by far the most satisfied customers in the market,” said Boman.