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Former Swedish bank chief goes on trial for fraud

Former chief executive of Swedish bank Swedbank, Birgitte Bonnesen, went on trial in Stockholm on Tuesday to answer fraud and market manipulation charges, three years after a money laundering scandal implicating her bank erupted.

Former Swedish bank chief goes on trial for fraud
Former Swedbank chief executive Birgitte Bonnesen arrives at the court on Tuesday along with her lawyer Per Samuelson. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/ TT

In early 2019, Swedish public service broadcaster SVT alleged in an investigative documentary that at least 40 billion kronor (equivalent at the time to 3.9 billion euros, $4.4 billion) of suspicious and high risk transactions had been channelled to Baltic countries, notably Estonia, from Swedbank accounts.

The revelations, which saw the bank’s share price crumble, rendered Bonnesen’s position untenable and she was fired.

Sweden’s financial regulator the following year fined the bank some 360 million euros and warned it to follow anti-money-laundering laws. The aggravated fraud charge, brought in January, carries a jail term of up to six years.

According to prosecutor Thomas Langrot, Bonnesen “intentionally or by aggravated negligence … passed on false information about the bank’s measures to prevent, detect, block and signal suspicions about money-laundering in (its) operations.”

Bonnesen, through her lawyer, has denied all of the charges against her as she faces a trial set to last up to eight weeks.

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BUSINESS

Volvo profits plummet on rising material costs

Swedish automaker Volvo Cars said on Thursday that rising raw material costs and inflation had driven down profits in the third quarter.

Volvo profits plummet on rising material costs

The group posted a net profit of 665 million kronor ($61 million) in the July-September period, a drop of 71 percent compared to 2.3 billion kronor during the same quarter a year ago.

The figure was far below analysts’ forecasts of between 2.15 and 2.19 billion kronor, according to Bloomberg and Factset.

The company’s share price was down by around seven percent in midday trading on the Stockholm stock exchange.

Chief executive Jim Rowan said the company was hit hard by rising raw material prices, record inflation, higher interest rates and the war in Ukraine.

“The macroeconomic uncertainties around the world weighed on our third quarter performance”, he said in a statement.

Revenue meanwhile rolled in slightly higher than analysts’ expectations, rising by 30 percent to 79.3 billion kronor, boosted by “robust” demand for the company’s SUVs.

Analysts had predicted third quarter sales of between 78.1 and 78.7 billion kronor.

Retail sales declined however in some markets, including its main markets Europe and the United States, where the number of vehicles sold fell by 14 and 32 percent respectively.

The carmaker insisted however that its order book remained solid.

Volvo Cars, which aims to have an all-electric fleet by 2030, also reported “sharp pick-up” for its fully-electric vehicles at the end of the quarter, especially in September.

It said sales of fully-electric cars soared by 87 percent in the third quarter, accounting for seven percent of its total sales during the period.

The company, a subsidiary of Chinese group Geely, said manufacturing output continued to improve in the third quarter, but “unforeseen factors” such as power outages and Covid-19 related lockdowns in China “slowed down the pace of normalisation”.

It expected production, wholesale and retail growth in the second half of the year.

“For the full year 2022, we expect slightly lower wholesale volumes than 2021, assuming no further major supply chain disturbances. Wholesale and retail volumes will be on similar levels”, it said.

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