Nordea Fined for Inadequate Checks to Stop Money Laundering

Nordea Bank Fined for Inadequate Checks to Stop Money Laundering
The headquarters of Nordea Bank SA stands in Stockholm. Photographer: Casper Hedberg/Bloomberg

April 16 (Bloomberg) -- Nordea Bank AB, the Nordic region’s largest lender, was fined 30 million kronor ($4.7 million) by Sweden’s financial watchdog for failing to comply with requirements designed to prevent money laundering.

Nordea, based in Stockholm, received a reprimand and an administrative fine for being “deficient in its internal governance and control with regard to the European Union sanctions regulations,” the Financial Supervisory Authority in Stockholm said today in a statement on its website.

The regulator said Nordea “did not screen beneficial owners against the EU sanctions regulations for several years” and that it “has exposed itself to the risk of giving blacklisted individuals access to funds and economic resources without the bank’s knowledge.” It also failed to disclose all its transactions in frozen accounts, notifying the watchdog in only 16 of 74 such cases and was “deficient in its risk assessment” of an unidentified Gibraltar client, the FSA said.

The Swedish regulator’s criticism of Nordea follows revelations that some of Europe’s biggest banks failed to comply with anti-money laundering requirements. HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered Plc, both based in London, paid fines in the U.S. for breaching sanctions on transfers to countries including Iran. HSBC agreed on Dec. 11 to settle U.S. charges that it helped Mexican and Colombian drug cartels launder millions of dollars in trafficking proceeds.

‘Significant Volume’

BNP Paribas SA, France’s largest bank, said last month it’s conducting a review of “a significant volume” of U.S. dollar transactions with countries that may face American economic sanctions. French rival Societe Generale SA said in March it’s cooperating with the U.S. looking into dollar transfers for clients in countries targeted by American economic sanctions.

Nordea said in a statement today that its fine, which will be paid by its Swedish unit, was “high” given that no prohibited transactions had taken place in the frozen accounts mentioned. The bank said it has taken measures to reduce the risks listed in the FSA’s reprimand.

Nordea dropped as much as 0.8 krona, or 1.1 percent, to 74.55 kronor in Stockholm trading, and traded at that level as of 10:30 a.m. local time. The stock has gained 20 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Niklas Magnusson in Stockholm at nmagnusson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net