Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Monday, 21 September 2020

Swedbank under investigation in Sweden over suspected market abuse

Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority is investigating local bank Swedbank over suspected market abuse, the bank said in an 18 September statement.

The agency’s investigation is focused on the “disclosure of insider information and the obligation to establish an insider list in connection with the disclosure of suspected money laundering within the company”, the statement reads.

The agency fined Swedbank $380 million in March for anti-money laundering failures at its Baltic subsidiaries.

The bank is also under investigation in the US and Estonia over suspected money laundering. In March, the bank said that it intends to self-report possible violations of US sanctions on Russia and Ukraine to the US Treasury Department.

Outlets report stories based on leaked trove of suspicious activity reports

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), BuzzFeed News and 108 partner organisations have started publishing stories based on a leaked trove of over 2,000 suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed with the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) between 1999 and 2017, covering transactions worth $2 trillion. 

The documents were leaked to BuzzFeed News, which shared them with the ICIJ. The reports show “how banks and regulators have failed the public by allowing dirty money to flow unchecked around the globe” the ICIJ said.

Former FinCEN senior advisor Natalie Edwards pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make unauthorised disclosures of SARs in January after prosecutors alleged she leaked them to a BuzzFeed reporter in 2017 and 2018.

French justice ministry investigates former PNF head for potential due diligence failures

France has launched an administrative investigation into the former head of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF), Éliane Houlette, over her handling of a probe into alleged campaign donations to former president Nicolas Sarkozy while she led the agency.

The justice ministry’s investigation, which also targets two investigative magistrates, concerns potential “breaches of due diligence, professional rigour and loyalty”. 

The announcement of the probe comes days after a justice ministry inspection cleared the PNF of any major wrongdoing in the Sarkozy investigation after allegations emerged that the agency had tapped the former president’s phone and improperly accessed the phone records of various French lawyers in connection with the probe. 

Houlette has previously defended her handling of the investigation. She led the PNF between 2013 and 2019.

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