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Banks and police team up to fight financial crime in Sweden

The Swedish police authority and the five largest banks in Sweden - Danske Bank, Handelsbanken, Nordea, SEB and Swedbank - have joined forces to launch the Swedish Anti Money Laundering Initiative (SAMLIT). 

“We now take the next step to make society better at fighting and preventing prevent organized crime,” said Martin Johansson, who in his role as senior advisor at SEB leads the bank’s work with SAMLIT. “For us, this means that we among other things get better insights into suspicious transaction patterns in our continued work against money laundering, terrorism financing and other types of economic crime.”

The initiative will start as a pilot project with the goal of being fully launched in 2021.

“This is a very important step in the fight against financial crime," said Johanna Norberg, country manager at Danske Bank Sweden. "Like a chameleon, this type of crime is constantly changing form and pattern, so for us, this collaboration means increased efficiency and proactivity. We hope that the experience gathered in the pilot project, will lead to even better possibilities to share information about suspicious activities between banks.”

Shared information

The Money Laundering Act empowers the police authority to request information from banks bilaterally, but within the framework of SAMLIT, the Financial Police and the five banks will now have the opportunity to collectively share information on methods, suspicious transaction patterns and new types of crime that have been jointly identified.

A pilot project to evaluate and test new methods for sharing information under current legislation will run from June to November 2020 before the initiative will be officially implemented in 2021, with more banks expected to join the scheme.

“The intelligence service of the police knows the picture of organised crime and of the people making money from criminal activity, while the banks see financial flows and patterns,” said Linda H Staaf, the head of the intelligence unit at the police's National Operations Department (NOA). “By sharing more information with each other we believe that crimes will be detected at an earlier stage but also that we to a larger extent will be able to prevent them from ever being committed. That’s how we want to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism and combat organised crime.”

Nordic and European cooperation

The collaboration with Swedish banks and the Swedish policy authority is the latest example of Danske Bank’s ongoing cooperation with supervisory authorities and other banks across the Nordics and in Europe. 

In Denmark, a close collaboration with Finance Denmark has led to 25 joint recommendations for how the financial sector and the authorities can improve their efforts to combat financial crime. On a Nordic level, Danske Bank is developing a platform for handling and administering KYC data with the five largest banks in the Nordics. The bank is also represented in a European AML taskforce, led by the independent think tank Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS), to develop recommendations for an improved EU regulatory framework on anti-money laundering. 

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