Swedish economic crime body received allegation that Nordea broke money-laundering rules

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's Economic Crime Authority said on Tuesday it had received documents from Hermitage Capital Management purporting to show that Nordic bank Nordea NDAFI.HENDA.ST had breached its responsibilities under anti-money laundering laws.

FILE PHOTO: The Nordea Bank AB logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

“We have received documents from Hermitage regarding money-laundering and we’re evaluating which authority should handle this,” a spokesman for the body told Reuters.

He said a formal investigation had not been opened yet.

Nordea said in an emailed statement to Reuters that it was aware of the report.

“We work closely with the relevant authorities in the countries in which we operate, including the Nordic Financial Intelligence Units,” Nordea said.

“In any cases where we deem it to be suspicious transactions, we report it to the authorities for them to take forward.”

It declined to comment on individual clients, citing banking secrecy rules.

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The Economic Crime Authority declined to give further details. Hermitage declined to comment.

In 2015, Nordea was fined 50 million Swedish crowns ($5.62 million) by Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority for breaches in anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism rules. That was the maximum fine at the time.

It is the second Nordic bank to be hit by allegations of breaches in internal controls against money laundering in recent months.

Danske Bank DANSKE.CO has been at the centre of an investigation into alleged money laundering which has prompted a U.S. criminal investigation.

The Danske scandal involves 200 billion euros ($230 billion) in transactions processed by Denmark’s biggest bank via its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015, many of which the bank said last month it thinks are suspicious.

Bill Browder, the founder and CEO of investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, filed a criminal complaint with Danish authorities in July over alleged money laundering at Danske Bank’s Estonian branch in the past.

The American-born Briton later filed a new criminal complaint in Estonia concerning Danske Bank.

Browder, once the biggest foreign money manager in Russia, is now campaigning to expose corruption.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing by John Stonestreet and Adrian Croft