In recent days Sweden’s largest mortgage bank, Swedbank, fired its CEO amid charges she was involved in a multi-billion dollar money laundering operation. Swedbank now joins Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, and several other European Union banks implicated in laundering what has been claimed amounts to more than $1 trillion in funds of Russian or Ukraine or other origin in recent years. As impressive as the scandal appears, equally interesting is the curious man triggering the scandals.
On March 28 Swedbank AB fired its CEO, Birgitte Bonnesen, amid allegations she was complicit in a conspiracy to launder billions of dollars in money from former Soviet Union states via Swedbank’s Estonia branch. At present Swedish SVT television reports suggest the mortgage bank laundered as much as 20 billion euros ($23 billion) in questionable funds each year, between 2010 and 2016 in Estonia, which, if true, would total some $140 billion. Swedbank allegedly also misled US authorities on its suspicious customer activities. Reportedly the Swedbank Estonia violations are tied to the even more dramatic allegations that Denmark’s largest bank, Danske Bank, laundered an eye-popping $230 billion via its Estonia operation. Bonnesen was in charge of Swedbank’s Baltic banking operations from 2011-2014.
Among those allegedly using the Baltic branch of Swedbank was former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovytch, ousted in a CIA coup in February 2014 facilitated by Obama State Department official Viktoria Nuland. Another client was reportedly the Russian industrial oligarch, Iskandar Makhmudov, who made his fortune during the Yeltsin years in the “rape of Russia” plunder of Soviet state companies.
The curious whistleblower
The person by all reports responsible for blowing the whistle on what he says is criminal money laundering of funds of Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs by Swedbank, Danske Bank and allegations that Deutsche Bank and other EU banks were also involved, is an American-born British citizen named Bill Browder.
Browder is notorious as a bitter enemy of Russia’s Putin. He has charged Putin’s police of murdering a business associate of Browder, Sergei Magnitsky, Browder’s accountant, in a Russian jail, charges never proven. It was enough however, for the well-connected Browder to get the influential backing of US Senator John McCain to pass the Magnitsky Act of 2012.