Dirty, Dirty Fiat: Swedbank CEO Fired Under Allegations of Aiding in $151 Billion Money Laundering Scandal


It's the sign of a plaster saint to preach from the pulpit but dwell proudly in the gutter. While there has been a new re-affirmation from governmental organs as well as private regulatory agencies to clamp down on illegal activities like money laundering. They turn their eyes often over-attentively to the involvement of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin.

With this overzealous approach against cryptocurrencies as being the dirty dog of the currency world, white collar, organized and corrupt criminal activities, especially money laundering are league tables overwhelmingly dominated by financial institutions like banks. And that is a fact that isn't going to change any time soon, no matter how much mainstream media, banks, governments, and businesses try to portray the contrary.

Proving To The Contrary Of Mainstream Spin – Swedbank CEO Fired

According to the board of Swedbank this week, we have had this issue of money laundering in financial institutions creep up, as the board announced the removal of its CEO – Birgitte Bonnesen – this week.

What places a profound exclamation mark over this whole affair is that she was fired in the wake of a very serious, and long-stretching scandal of money laundering, with the sum of $151 billion being involved. Placing a crippling pressure on the company to act.

“The developments during the past days have created enormous pressure for the bank. Therefore, the board has decided to dismiss Birgitte Bonnesen from her position,”

Swedbank chairman Lars Idermark said.

For all intents and purposes, for those out of the loop, the affair involving Swedbank is an exception to the rule. Problem is that they're not the only major bank or financial institution that's been caught up in the scandals of money laundering. For example, they are just the latest financial organization from the Nordic region.

In November, Danske Bank has since been embroiled in its own money-laundering scandal back in November. With major members of its organization being involved in $224 billion worth of it spanning years.

What this makes this is the second in an increasing line of scandals which is totaling an untenable amount of money, and all it does is raise a great number of questions as to just how active financial institutions are towards prosecuting long-standing issues like this. How blind governments are to this kind of behavior, and how much scape-goating are both of these bodies going to undertake before they realize crypto is not the culprit?

An answer to one of these questions came from Reuters, which reported back in November, the banking supervisory body for European Union had lambasted Denmark's financial regulator for being far too trusting of Danske, and not pushing them more.

“Denmark’s financial watchdog faces an inquiry by the European Union’s banking supervisor, and the Danish business minister has criticized the regulator for not being critical enough toward the bank and for trusting it too much.”

This is according to the Report published by Reuters read.

The one gulf that is starting to emerge between banks and cryptocurrencies is that based around the scale and prevalence of money laundering. Crypto's can be attributed to the relative age of the technology, the fact that it persists in as old an institution as banking, and the fact that governments are demonstrating blindness or even passivity to it is beyond any excuse.

Under An Objective Lens – Crypto In Contrast

While cryptocurrencies have a distinct lack of practicality and efficiency when compared to financial institutions, banks, and major credit card providers, there's no arguing over the kind of anonymity and transparency that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Monero can provide for users.

Having systems active within the blockchain, such as a public ledger allow for anyone to track any transaction that takes place within the public chain.

In spite of this, and the nominal amount of money involved in money laundering and cryptocurrencies, financial regulators and governmental bodies have focused intensely, and we may even argue disproportionately, on bitcoin among other digital assets in a crackdown on illegal activities such as money laundering.

Over the course of a scheduled G20 meeting in early to mid-2018, government representatives and officials proposed and urged for a broader and more ‘vigilant' monitoring of cryptocurrencies and related activities.

Member states of G20 argued:

“While crypto-assets do not at this point pose a global financial stability risk, we remain vigilant. … We reiterate our March commitments related to the implementation of the FATF standards and we ask the FATF to clarify in October 2018 how its standards apply to crypto-assets.”

While this is lofty rhetoric, it fails to register with a community that already has a challenging environment established for those looking to make quick money through the laundering of scams. This is thanks to the presence of analytics firms like Chainalysis, along with already existing cryptographic and transaction monitoring firms operating in conjunction with cryptocurrency exchanges.

As a result, those criminals looking to move illegal funds from exchange to exchange are already facing an increasing amount of difficulty getting away with their gains.

What we see with this is just how out of step and out of touch big businesses and governments of the world are when it comes to money laundering scandals. Considering the fact that, over the last five months, financial institutions and banks have been caught up in money laundering scandals that exceed nearly half a trillion dollars.

So what does this tell us? That governments of the world should be working on getting its own financial / banking house in order, rather than cracking down on what amounts to financial ‘small potatoes.'

Over the course of the past year, we are seeing cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses are becoming more compliant in the face of local and international regulations including adhering to the expectations set out by major financial authorities. We are certainly seeing this in light of the renewed interest expressed by institutional investors and businesses.

For example, in South Korea, major cryptocurrency exchanges have proven that they are more than willing to learn from past mistakes. We see this with the creation of an association of exchanges, all of which share data on suspicious activities or transactions, along with suspect funds and digital wallets that they observe moving between exchanges.

This allows them to be proactive in freezing accounts and wallets that they believe may be involved in criminal activity.

When The Dust Settles – Aftermath Of Swedbank

So what is going to happen in the aftermath of Swedbank? According to a report published by Financial Times, in an annual report from Swedbank, the organization stated that with the termination of Bonnesen's contract this week would also coincide with a compensation of 18 months worth of the salary that she earned, totaling $2.4 million.

While the medium-term influence of being caught up in a money-laundering scandal of this scale means that the reputation of this company will be marked for some time and will result in some longer-term scrutiny, but this remains as yet uncertain.

At this moment in time, however, there is at least some level of justice being served to its now-fired CEO, and $2.4 million worth of compensation is being demanded from her.

While it remains highly important that regulators and exchanges continue to have this collaborative approach in combatting money laundering, we need to see more of this within the institutional financial world. And that can only be done through more stringent oversight and collaboration between regulators and businesses.

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