Banks, Estonia, EU – Baltic States, Financial Services

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Friday, 07.08.2020, 03:11

Estonian finmin: Money laundering scandals behavioral pattern of Nordic banks

BC, Tallinn, 15.11.2019.Print version
Estonian Minister of Finance Martin Helme emphasized that the money laundering scandals of Nordic banks are not the problem of Baltic countries as the banks' management and principal decisions regarding business strategy were made at the headquarters, not on site, cited LETA/BNS.

"However, we are the victims," Helme wrote on social media. He added that money laundering scandals have disturbed the functioning of normal banking here, actually damaged Estonia's economic environment, the country's global reputation and the price and availability of credit.

At the same time, the minister said that Estonia is interested in the stability of its banking market and the state will make every effort to ensure that Nordic banks with a large market share continue their activity in Estonia.

"It is quite clear that there is more bad news to come and it is unthinkable to hide one's head in the sand and not talk about the topic. We have to be prepared for that. Our reaction to this is: we are uncompromisingly fighting for clearing the Estonian economic space from money laundering and our efforts are already bearing results," Helme said.

SEB said on Friday that Swedish public broadcaster SVT is to air a program on suspected money laundering in the Baltics that would include information concerning SEB.

"The headquarters of the bank and Swedish media have the same attitude toward the issue as before, that this is a problem of the Baltics. It is not, it is becoming increasingly clear that this is, after all, a behavioral pattern of Nordic banks over a certain period of time, which enabled a situation to develop where the share of mainly Russian non-residents in the activities of the banks became very big and there were a lot of such clients and transactions within this large portion that did not meet the standards of money laundering risk control," the minister said.

At that, Helme emphasized that the fight against money laundering is one of the most important priorities of this government and himself as finance minister. "To that end, we are cooperating internationally as well as moving forward with national investigations, and we have also launched a process for legislative amendments to make penalties stricter and strengthen supervision," the minister said.

Helme added that, as a rule, there is currently talk about violations that took place in the past and are now starting to come out. He explained that the risk of money laundering in Estonian banking is currently significantly lower than only a few years ago. "We have also worked hard to achieve this, reinforcing the Financial Supervision Authority and the Financial Intelligence Unit with manpower resources. We have worked hard to improve our data analysis capabilities," Helme added.

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