Nordic Entente Cordiale
Sigma Ratings

Months after a massive money-laundering scandal, Nordic banks, including the region’s three biggest lenders Danske Bank, Swedbank and Nordea, are now experiencing the costs of settling advanced AML/KYC controls. Last July, the three banks have reported a setback in quarterly profits due to investments in new compliance systems and staff members, as well as lower dividends. Estonia, where more than $230 billion have flowed through a small Danske Bank branch, along with its two Baltic neighbors, have been Swedbank and Danske Bank operations center for most of their recorded suspicious transactions.

In what could be interpreted as a move to regain investors’ trust, Nordea Bank, SEB, Danske Bank, DNB, Swedbank and Svenska Handelsbanken announced earlier this month the creation of a KYC-focused joint venture. The Nordic KYC Utility, which is officially planned for 2020, is primarily designed to to crack down on money launderers. After months of negative rates, scandals and poor dividend policies, major Nordic banks are finally joining forces to limit the damages and to show investors they can still rely on them. Worth noting that Swedbank and Danske Bank still face potential lawsuits, fines and sanctions from US, European, Baltic and national regulators, meaning the coming months could be crucial for Nordic banks’ future.

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