RIGA/STOCKHOLM Dec 11 Swedish lender Swedbank said on Sunday that queues of people withdrawing
money at its cash machines in Latvia were due to a false rumour
spread by social media that Swedish banks had problems.
"These are totally irrelevant rumours coming out of social
media. The bank's position is more than solid, Swedbank
spokesman Thomas Backteman, said. "The rumours are not only
about us, but about Swedish banks."
Short queues formed in Latvian capital Riga at some
machines to withdraw money. Latvian media said queues were
longer in other regions. The rumours began on the social
networking service Twitter, prompting some panicky withdrawals
Latvia's financial services authority said the rumours were
"A groundless wave of rumours has spread this weekend on
Internet media and social Websites about the financial
situation of Swedbank," Latvian regulator FKTK said in a
"The Commission (FKTK) would like to inform the public that
these are only rumours and there is no need for worry about the
financial situation of the bank," it added.
Backteman said Swedbank -- one of the best capitalised
banks in Europe -- had seen an increase in withdrawals from its
cash machines in parts of Latvia.
"It is about three times the withdrawals we would normally
see in a weekend," he said.
Latvia's banking sector, which has more than 30 commercial
banks, is dominated by Nordic banking groups such as Swedbank and SEB .
SEB, the second biggest player after Swedbank in the
Baltics, had no immediate comment.
Backteman said rumours that Swedish banks were having
problems had started about two weeks ago, and resurfaced on
He said Swedbank was monitoring the situation and was
making sure customers were able to withdraw their money from
the bank if they so wished.
The rumours come just weeks after Latvijas Krajbanka
collapsed following the takeover of its parent in Lithuania by
The collapse in 2008 of Latvia's second-biggest lender,
Parex bank, forced the country to take a bailout from the
International Monetary Fund and European Union.