Estonia launches criminal probe into Swedbank money laundering scandal

FILE PHOTO: Swedbank sign is seen on the local headquarters building in Tallinn, Estonia March 25, 2019. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

TALLINN (Reuters) - Estonia's police and prosecutor have launched a criminal investigation of Swedbank SWEDa.ST over alleged money laundering in 2011-2017, the state prosecutor's office said on Tuesday.

The bank is already under investigation by Swedish and Estonian financial watchdogs, which on Tuesday said they had advanced their investigations by opening formal sanction cases against the bank.

Sweden's oldest retail bank earlier this year dismissed its CEO and accepted the resignation of its chairman after its Estonian business was caught up in dirty money allegations that have engulfed Danish peer Danske Bank DANSKE.CO.

“Based on the current information Estonia was possibly used as a transit country in a money laundering scheme,” it said in a statement.

It also said no person had been charged with a crime at this point in the investigation. The prosecutor’s office declined to give further comments.

Estonia has earlier said its investigation of Swedbank activities were part of an investigation into Danske Bank money laundering in Estonia.

Swedbank was not immediately available to comment.

Swedbank’s Estonian business removed three of its top executives in September.

Reporting by Tarmo Virki and Johan Ahlander; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Shumaker