02 Dec 2019 09:38

SEB’s history in the Baltic countries

During the last ten years SEB has reported some 6,000 suspicious cases to the financial police in the respective Baltic countries. In our daily work we regularly detect deviations that we handle and report to the financial police when there are suspicions of money laundering. We do this today, and we have done this historically, in accordance with applicable regulations.

The fact that we detect these deviations shows that SEB has effective systems, routines and processes for preventing the bank from being used for financial crime. However, SEB cannot guarantee that the bank has not nor will be exploited.

Extensive analysis

On top of our daily operations, during the past year and a half SEB has performed an extensive analysis of the bank’s historical activities in the Baltic countries, including reviews of individual customer relationships and the bank’s actions.
This analysis shows that since 2006 SEB has worked structurally and consciously to reduce the risk of being used for money laundering in the Baltic countries. A number of decisions and measures have been taken coupled to the criticism the bank received from the Estonian Financial Supervision and Resolution Authority in 2006 along with information that was brought to the bank’s attention via an external source. A large number of customer relationships were terminated in connection with this. As new information has been obtained, SEB has successively terminated customer relationships and reported suspicions to the financial police in the respective Baltic countries.
In the extensive analysis we have performed of the bank’s history in the Baltic countries during the past ten years, we have not been able to see that SEB has been systematically used for money laundering. The statements made about the bank’s historical activities in the Baltic countries have been based on this analysis. At the same time we can state that both SEB and other banks continuously live with the risks associated with financial crime.

Resilience has strengthened

SEB has historically lived up to the regulatory requirements and to the bank’s even higher internal standards. At the same time, knowing what we know today we can say that neither the regulations nor the banking system’s ability to manage money laundering risks were sufficiently effective prior to 2008. SEB’s ability to prevent, detect and report suspected cases of financial crime has been strengthened over time. The regulations have been successively toughened, awareness has increased, and the bank’s routines, processes and systems are being constantly improved.
SEB is continually investing in both competence and new technology – employing machine learning and artificial intelligence – to strengthen the bank’s resilience. But if the work on countering money laundering and financial crime is to achieve its utmost results, more collaboration and more information sharing is needed – between banks, sectors, authorities and countries. SEB is therefore working together with other Nordic banks and with the police to increase this collaboration and to strengthen society’s and the banking system’s resilience to financial crime over the long term.