Swedbank ex-CEO goes on trial over Estonia money laundering scandal

The Swedbank logo is pictured on its branch in Riga October 21, 2014. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

STOCKHOLM, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Former Swedbank (SWEDa.ST) Chief Executive Birgitte Bonnesen on Tuesday went on trial in Sweden, charged with fraud over her handling of the lender's anti-money laundering protocols in Estonia.

Bonnesen, who was Swedbank's CEO from 2016 to 2019, is accused by the prosecution of giving misleading information on several occasions with the intent to cover up deficiencies in its Estonian anti-money laundering work.

The Danish-born 66-year-old was denying the charges, her lawyer Per Samuelsson said in an email.

Bonnesen, who was fired in 2019 after media reports of suspected money laundering in Estonia, risks up to six years in prison if found guilty.

Swedbank in 2020 acknowledged past shortcomings in work to prevent money laundering and was fined a record 4 billion Swedish crowns ($366 million) by the Swedish financial watchdog.

Prosecutor Thomas Langrot in January said Bonnesen was suspected of having given misleading information to shareholders and the public, intentionally or through negligence, on the bank's measures to prevent, uncover, avoid and report suspicions of money laundering in Estonia.

The Stockholm district court has said it expects the trial to last eight weeks.

Bonnesen declined to comment to reporters outside the court ahead of the start of the trial on Tuesday. Her lawyer and the prosecutor were not available for comment.

($1 = 10.9278 Swedish crowns)

Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Marie Mannes; editing by David Evans

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