As Swedbank faces multiple investigations into money laundering practices, the bank’s acting president and CEO Anders Karlsson recently announced the formation of a new unit to combat financial crime.

“In order to strengthen our ongoing work of preventing and combating all aspects of financial crime we are now establishing a new group-wide unit within the bank, the Anti-Financial Crime (AFC) unit,” Karlsson said in an April 25 interim report for the first quarter of 2019. AFC will focus on anti-money laundering (AML), counter-terrorism financing and fraud prevention, as well as cyber-security, information-security, and physical security, he said.

The AFC will also coordinate internally initiated investigations, review internal processes and routines, and manage cooperation with the authorities within the AML area. “Banks play a central role in combating money laundering,” Karlsson said. “All banks are responsible for knowing their customers, for reporting suspicious transactions to the authorities and for ensuring that all employees adhere to laws and regulations.”

“For Swedbank to deserve the trust of customers, authorities, investors, employees and other stakeholders, continuous improvement in our anti-money laundering work is required. Over the years, we have enhanced our methods continuously,” Karlsson added. For example, it created a special AML program in 2016, focusing on the Baltic markets. “More stringent procedures led to many customers being off-boarded,” he said.

“The investigations now underway will provide us with important answers regarding any further measures that we may need to take,” Karlsson continued. “In addition, we would also like to see closer collaboration between banks, authorities and the financial police in order to combat the problem inherent in society that money laundering poses.”

Karlsson also spoke about the bank’s priorities in improving its processes and systems. “Some of our ongoing projects that aim to digitize everyday banking services will cost more than initially estimated in order to be completed during the year,” he said. “Based on our belief that these investments will increase customer value, we have chosen to continue with the projects at the current pace.”