Swedish banks ‘make life easy for terrorists’

Swedish banks 'make life easy for terrorists'
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT
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.
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.” 

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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.”