Swedbank replaces EY with forensic auditors to investigate money laundering report

FILE PHOTO: File photo shows Swedbank's logo on its Lithuanian headquarters in Vilnius
FILE PHOTO: Swedbank’s logo is pictured on its Lithuanian headquarters in Vilnius, Lithuania, in this May 10, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

February 26, 2019

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedbank said on Tuesday it had hired external forensic auditors to investigate information in a media report linking the bank to a Baltic money laundering scandal, replacing recently appointed audit firm EY.

Sweden’s public broadcaster alleged last week that money laundering could have occurred in relation to at least 40 billion crowns ($4.3 bln) transferred between Baltic accounts at Swedbank and Danske Bank between 2007 and 2015.

Following the report the Swedish bank appointed EY to analyze material and conduct an external investigation into the claims.

“To secure that the external investigation meets necessary demands Swedbank has today decided to replace EY with Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA),” it said in a statement.

British-based FRA specializes in forensic accounting, data analytics and financial investigations and has experience in regulatory probes, anti-money laundering and terror financing cases.

“We have noticed some criticism in the media and since we think it is very important that the conclusions, which will come from the external investigation, should not be questioned, we have chosen to replace the investigator,” Swedbank spokesman Gabriel Franke Rodau said.

Danske is being investigated in five countries over some 200 billion euros of suspicious payments from Russia, ex-Soviet states and elsewhere that were found to have flowed through its Estonian branch.

Swedbank said FRA would report the results of the external investigation to the CEO and board by its March 28 annual general meeting.

Financial regulators in Sweden and Estonia have opened a joint investigation following the Swedish media report.

($1 = 9.3206 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Helena Soderpalm, editing by Louise Heavens)

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