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Swedish police raid Swedbank offices in insider trading probe

The plot thickens, with a raid on Swedbank's HQ and suspicions of insider trading adding to a possible money laundering probe
The plot thickens, with a raid on Swedbank's HQ and suspicions of insider trading adding to a possible money laundering probe AFP
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Stockholm (AFP)

Sweden's economic crime police on Wednesday raided the headquarters of bank Swedbank as part of a preliminary investigation into insider trading linked to a larger money laundering scandal, authorities said.

The raid took place early Wednesday at the bank's offices in Sundbyberg, a suburb outside Stockholm, and continued for several hours, according to an AFPTV journalist at the scene.

A Swedish TV documentary that aired in February claimed to have seen documents showing that at least 40 billion kronor (3.8 billion euros, $4.3 billion) of suspicious transactions had been channelled to Baltic countries from Swedbank accounts between 2007 and 2015.

Some of the money may have first gone via Danske Bank, which is at the centre of a giant money-laundering scandal.

Swedbank is suspected of informing its 15 biggest shareholders of the documentary's contents two days before it aired.

The biggest shareholders thereby "had access to market moving information before other shareholders and could act on it," SVT said on Wednesday.

Swedbank confirmed the raid and said it was cooperating with the Swedish Economic Crime Authority in its preliminary investigation into insider trading.

Prosecutor Per Hakan Larsson meanwhile told news agency TT that "no decision has been taken yet" about whether to open a preliminary investigation into the money laundering claims.

SVT on Tuesday claimed that Swedbank's had failed in its efforts to combat money laundering.

An internal Swedbank report obtained by SVT claimed that many of the bank's "high risk customers should never have been approved", and, in some cases, the bank "did not even know who the real owners of the accounts were, nor where the money was coming from."

Swedbank said the report was included in an external report it commissioned.

On Wednesday, SVT also claimed Swedbank withheld information from US authorities regarding suspicious customers and transactions in the Panama Papers scandal, in which thousands of clients around the world moved money offshore to protect it from taxes.

Swedbank's share price was down by 10 percent in mid-afternoon trading on Wednesday.

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