The ruling from the Stockholm District Court comes four years after the eruption of a money laundering scandal implicating the bank.
In 2019, Swedish public service broadcaster SVT alleged that at least 40 billion kronor (equivalent at the time to $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.
Prosecutors later charged Bonnesen, accusing her of “intentionally or by aggravated negligence” providing false or misleading information about the steps the bank had taken to prevent and detect suspected money laundering.
Bonnesen, who risked two years in prison, denied all of the charges against her.
The court said that while some of the statements the former CEO made to media outlets had been “unclear and incomplete”, they did not amount to fraud.
“For criminal liability, it is not enough for someone to make a false statement or omit key information,” judge Malou Lindblom said, adding that any statement needed to be sufficient to influence recipients “in a certain direction”.
Bonnesen was also cleared of charges of revealing insider information by informing the bank’s main owners that the investigative documentary was coming.
The court said the former CEO had only revealed what she believed the documentary would cover, which was deemed too “imprecise” to be considered insider information.