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Nordea (NDAFI.HE) posted a larger than expected drop in third-quarter profit on Wednesday, citing pressure on margins, as the company hit back at allegations of lax controls, saying it had spent years beefing up anti-money laundering resources. On Monday, American-born businessman Bill Browder widened a criminal complaint against the bank for facilitating suspicious money transfers worth $400 million out of the Baltics between 2007 and 2013. Nordea is the second Nordic bank to face such allegations, after Danske Bank (DANSKE.CO) came under investigation for suspicious payments totalling 200 billion euros (176.62 billion pounds) from 2007 onwards through its Estonian branch.
Finland's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been sent information on Nordea Bank from Hermitage Capital Management, a spokesman for the Nordic bank confirmed on Monday. Hermitage last week lodged money laundering accusations against Nordea with Sweden's Economic Crime Authority, sending the bank's shares down 2.7 percent on Wednesday. The NBI said in a Twitter post on Monday that it had received a report from Hermitage but declined to provide further detail.
Nordea became the latest large Nordic bank to be accused of alleged money laundering scandals on Tuesday, when Browder's Hermitage Capital Management asked Swedish and Norwegian authorities to investigate as much as $175 million of potentially illicit funds. In an emailed statement to CNBC, Nordea said it was aware of the documents purporting to show it had breached money laundering laws. Scandinavian countries have created a "permissive environment" for money laundering, Bill Browder told CNBC Wednesday, shortly after the prominent Kremlin critic accused Nordea Bank NDA-SE of fraud, falsification and dishonest conduct.
Sweden's Economic Crime Authority said on Tuesday it had received documents from Hermitage Capital Management purporting to show that Nordic bank Nordea had breached its responsibilities under anti-money laundering laws. "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. Nordea said in an emailed statement to Reuters that it was aware of the report.
Nordic banking group Nordea (NDAFI.HE) (NDA.ST) said on Tuesday it was aware of an allegation by Hermitage Capital Management that it had breached anti money-laundering regulations and said that it reported all suspicious transactions to authorities. "We are aware of the report, and at Nordea we work closely with the relevant authorities in the countries in which we operate, including the Nordic Financial Intelligence Units," Nordea said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
The new arrival is Nordea Bank Abp, which is moving its headquarters to Helsinki from Stockholm. The bank, whose $670 billion in assets are more than twice Finland’s gross domestic product, has made clear its move was driven by regulatory considerations and a wish to be inside the European banking union. "We’ll be in the core of Europe," Chief Executive Officer Casper von Koskull told reporters at a recent breakfast meeting in Stockholm.
Sweden's Financial Supervisory Authority said on Wednesday it had decided to hike part of the capital buffer lenders must hold to 2.5 percent of risk-weighted assets, due to increased risks in the banking system. "One indication that the risks in the financial system have increased is that the combination of low interest rates and low risk premiums," the FSA said in a statement. The FSA last raised the buffer - which moves up and down over time in relation to the perceived level of risk in the banking system - in March 2016 when it increased to 2 percent.
Nordea and DNB have agreed to sell a 60 percent stake in Baltic bank Luminor to a Blackstone private equity consortium for 1 billion euros ($1.16 billion) in cash, the two Nordic banks said on Thursday. Luminor, the third-biggest bank in the Baltic region with assets of 15 billion euros, was formed by the 2016 decision to merge Nordea's and DNB's operations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. "The transaction represents the largest majority stake acquisition of a universal bank by private equity in the last decade globally, and one of the largest M&A transactions in Baltic history," Blackstone said in a statement.
Europe can’t allow itself another money laundering scandal like the one engulfing Denmark’s biggest bank, according to a growing list of regulators, legislators and even bankers now demanding better region-wide controls against such crime. Rasmus Jarlov, the minister in charge of financial legislation in Denmark, says the example of Danske Bank A/S is one from which Europe needs to learn. The lender is now the target of criminal investigations in Denmark and Estonia amid allegations that as much as $9 billion, mostly from Russia, was laundered through its Estonian unit between 2007 and 2015.
The wealth management unit of Nordea Bank AB will struggle to reach a target of generating as much as 5 percent in net new money this year after a tough first half, according to its head, Snorre Storset. “We have a long-term target of net flows with 4-5 percent growth from the start of the year,” Storset said in an interview in Oslo on Thursday. Much of the lull in demand for Nordea’s wealth management services can be traced back to its Stable Return Fund.
Nordea (NDA.ST) beat quarterly forecasts helped by cost cuts on Thursday, sending shares in the biggest Nordic bank higher despite its warning that like-for-like 2018 revenue would likely fall. Nordea shares were up 2.7 percent at 0900 GMT as traders focused on the earnings rather than the revenue forecast. Swedish banking stocks have been dented over the past year by worries over a slump in Sweden's housing market and niche players taking market share in mortgages, weighing on lending margins.
Bill Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, discusses the money laundering accusations at Nordea Bank.