Skip to main content

Swedbank's Estonian headquarters in Tallinn.

Ints Kalnins/Reuters

Swedbank has suspended with immediate effect the two most senior executives of its Estonian business, which is being investigated over alleged money laundering.

Sweden’s oldest retail bank has already parted ways with its chief executive and chairman this year after alleged links to a money laundering scandal at Danske Bank, and is being investigated in the United States, Sweden and the Baltics.

The most recent allegations, reported by Swedish state TV in March, said that Swedbank processed gross transactions of up to €20 billion (£17.87-billion) a year from high-risk, mostly Russian non-resident clients, through Estonia from 2010 to 2016.

Story continues below advertisement

Although Swedbank initially denied the allegations, which first related to between 2007 and 2015, mounting shareholder pressure for transparency led to the bank’s admission in April to failings in combatting money laundering and an internal inquiry into compliance with anti-money laundering rules.

Robert Kitt, who has been Estonia CEO since 2015, and Vaiko Tammevali, Estonia CFO since 2014, had both been suspended, Swedbank said in a statement late on Monday.

“(The) decision is a consequence of the ongoing internal investigation,” Charlotte Elsnitz, Swedbank’s head of Baltic Banking, told journalists at a news conference on Tuesday.

Elsnitz declined to give any details about the reason for the suspensions, but said Swedbank remained committed to Estonia, where it is the largest bank with more than 900,000 private and 132,000 business customers.

Kitt and Tammevali, both Estonian, have worked at the bank for more than 15 years. Kitt’s previous jobs include heading the wealth management and corporate banking units, while Tammevali’s included leading the private banking and credit risk units.

“It has been a fantastic journey. Fiercely tense, frantically interesting, with fantastic colleagues and a team. But every race is running out of time and my mandate in Swedbank Estonia as (Head of Unit) ended today,” Estonian media quoted Kitt as saying in a statement posted on Facebook.

Reuters could not immediately independently verify the statement, which was confirmed by a Swedbank spokeswoman, while Kitt did not respond to requests for comment.

Story continues below advertisement

Tammevali could not immediately be reached.

Credit Suisse analysts said that the suspensions could help Swedbank in any discussions with authorities.

The Estonian financial regulator declined to comment and said that their investigation with Sweden and other Baltic authorities was ongoing, while Swedbank said it was co-operating fully with authorities.

Swedbank said Olavi Lepp, its chief risk officer, had been named acting CEO of Swedbank Estonia, while Anna Kouts, its head of treasury, would become acting CFO in the Baltic country.

The bank’s shares, which have lost about a third in value since the scandal broke, were down 1.6 per cent at 138.35 Swedish crowns at 0930 GMT.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies