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SEB comments on its work against financial crime

In a series of articles in recent weeks, Dagens industri has examined how criminals have exploited the financial system, including cases linked to SEB. The bank takes these cases very seriously. 

Organised crime has seen strong growth in Sweden in recent years. It affects private individuals, companies, banks and authorities and is a threat to society as a whole.

There are also cases where SEB has been affected. A trial is currently under way against an individual who was previously employed by SEB and who is accused of having taken advantage of that employment by accepting bribes to grant loans on fraudulent grounds. In another trial, people have been convicted of deceiving banks, including SEB, into issuing loans on false grounds.

The bank takes this very seriously. We always cooperate fully with the Police and other crime-prevention and law enforcement agencies so that criminals can be prosecuted and convicted.

“Organised crime is a growing problem that places increasingly high demands on us, on our industry and on society at large. At SEB we take our responsibility very seriously. We work every day, all year round to fight financial crime. Every single case of criminality is one too many. We are therefore constantly strengthening our routines and capabilities in order to prevent and combat this. Since crime is constantly changing, there are no guarantees that we will never be affected,” says Mats Torstendahl, Deputy President & CEO and responsible for Financial Crime Prevention in the Group Executive Committee.

Dagens industri highlights several factors that we agree with, including that all banks must accept their responsibility to combat the system-threatening criminality, that society must cooperate and solve this issue using its combined forces and that banks must take resolute action against criminals and fraudsters. That is how SEB works today and we are constantly working to strengthen our capabilities.

That said, there are a number of conclusions in Dagens industri’s articles that we believe to be incorrect. It is not possible, as the newspaper does, to draw far-reaching conclusions about SEB’s work against financial crime based on a few cases. In the newspaper’s reporting, this is about loans of approximately

SEK 20 million that SEB has granted on fraudulent ground. This is not anamount that lacks significance But it must be placed in perspective. These individual cases constitute a fraction of the total criminal economy, which, according to the Police, has an annual turnover of between SEK 100 and 150 billion. In the statistics and facts available to us, SEB is not overrepresented in terms of financial crime.

“We monitor several billion financial transactions and together with the other banks we report thousands of suspect transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit every year. This is an important part of our responsibility as a bank. In recent years, we have greatly strengthened our resources, the number of employees, and our abilities to control, monitor and analyse. We have also intensified our collaboration with the Police, other law enforcement agencies and with the private sector. This is work that produces results, but at the same time is never finished because crime is constantly trying to find new ways,” says Johan Sekora, Global Head of Financial Crime Prevention at SEB.

As a bank, we have a responsibility to counter, prevent, identify and report suspected crime. We always report irregularities and suspected crime to the Police. We also have a responsibility to assist the law enforcement agencies which then take over. Although it is relatively rare, it unfortunately happens that employees in the financial industry also commit crimes. If an employee breaks the law and/or contravenes our internal rules and processes, this is of course unacceptable and if this happens we always take the necessary measures.

SEB also collaborates with other banks, with the police and authorities. The bank does this among other things through the Swedish Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Task Force (SAMLIT), which works to increase information sharing and improve our common resilience. As a result, an increased number of criminals have been identified.