Former Swedish bank chief goes on trial for fraud

BUSINESS

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.

Published: 4 October 2022 16:58 CEST

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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