Sweden-based Swedbank announced its board of directors has appointed Ingrid Harbo as its permanent chief compliance officer. Harbo, who had been chief audit executive since 2011, was serving as interim CCO. She will continue to be co-opted to the group executive committee.
In March 2019, Swedbank’s board of directors said it dismissed Chief Executive Officer Birgitte Bonnesen amid allegations the bank was used to launder billions of dollars out of Russia under her watch. At the same meeting, the board appointed current CFO Anders Karlsson as acting president and CEO. The bank is currently under investigation by financial supervisory authorities in both Sweden and Estonia, as well as the United States.
In another notable move, the bank said it will allow prosecutors to interview the attorney who carried out an internal investigation into Swedbank’s compliance with AML regulations. “Swedbank’s board has decided to meet a request from the Swedish Economic Crime authority to waive attorney-client privilege regarding attorney Erling Grimstad’s assignments for Swedbank,” the bank stated.
Concurrently with these announcements, Swedbank also stated it has “submitted its answers to the questions the bank has received from the Financial Supervisory Authorities in Sweden and Estonia, as a result of their ongoing investigations of the bank. Swedbank notes that many of the key observations made by the two Financial Supervisory Authorities correspond to the bank’s own conclusions.”
In its most frank admission of fault yet, Swedbank said that, although it has continuously improved its compliance system, “the bank’s anti-money laundering work has had, and still has, certain shortcomings. In the past, the bank has not allocated sufficient resources and competence to adequately manage the risk of money laundering by clients and third parties.”
“The division of responsibilities within the bank has not been clear enough, and the bank has not always complied with internal policies,” Swedbank added. “Know-Your-Customer and risk assessment are areas where Swedbank has had, and still has, shortcomings. This applies both to the Swedish and Estonian operations.”
Based on these insights, Swedbank said it is currently working to ensure regulatory compliance going forward. In February 2019, it retained law firm Clifford Chance to conduct an internal investigation into historical shortcomings in the bank. This investigation is expected to be concluded in early 2020.
Within the scope of the bank’s new Anti-Financial Crime unit, work has been ongoing since April to identify historical shortcomings and to develop the bank’s ability to prevent all types of financial crime, Swedbank said.
The bank said it will provide information regarding its efforts to combat money laundering and other types of financial crime in connection to the next interim report on Oct. 23.