Home Europe Swedbank Estonia Branch Suspected of Shady Business

Swedbank Estonia Branch Suspected of Shady Business

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According to Postimees, OCCRP’s partner in Estonia, a Swedbank branch in Estonia was used to transfer 204 million dollars to a wholesaler. The money was transferred by two offshore companies.  The two companies are owned by two alcoholics believed to be in a hideout in Riga.

Formus Baltic OU, the wholesaler, made sales of over 51 million dollars in 2008, the year it started operating. The company was growing fast since then, and this attracted suspicions of financial foul play. It is reported that the company was growing because of the millions it was receiving from Wireberg Company LLP, a UK firm, through an account at Swedbank Estonia branch.

Wireberg company transferred over 98 million dollars to a Swedbank account owned by Formus. The money was sent using 161 transfers within a period of six months. The money was recorded as payment for the purchase of some electronic equipment.

Both Ireland and Overseas Acquisition Limited and Milltown Corporate Services Limited are listed in the central American tax haven of Belize. Both companies are reported to have been Wireberg’s owners. Voldemar Spatz and Erik Vanagels are known to be stakeholders of Wireberg. Both men are said to be living in Riga, and they are serial alcohol drinkers and not that good at socializing.

Prostimees journalist suspects the identities of both Vanagels and Spatz are not real identities but proxy names. The two men act as heads for several hundred companies.

It is believed that Milltown and Ireland & Overseas is deeply involved in a number of money laundering schemes. The laundering schemes are owned by Viktor Yanukovych, the former president of Ukraine.  Yanukovych is a significant suspect mentioned continuously in both the Azerbaijani Laundromat and the Magnitsky affair which are both high-level money laundering scandals.

An interview between The New York Times and Serhiy v. Gorbatyuk revealed that Milltown is an offshore company that Yanukovych and his partners frequently use to conduct suspicious businesses. Gorbatyuk is a prosecutor for corruption cases that involve high-level persons in Ukraine.

Since 2012, Milltown and Ireland and overseas are no longer registered as the owners of Wireberg. Wireberg’s new owners are listed as Monohold AG and Intrahold AG. Both companies are registered in Seychelles. The financial watchdog in Seychelles suspects that the two companies could be connected to Yanukovych and his cabinet with allegations of money laundering surrounding them.

Intrahold and Monohold have been subjects of criminal investigations by authorities since 2014. Authorities have not made any arrests or prosecuted anyone suspected to be using the two companies for laundering money.

SVT, a Swedish public broadcaster, reports that suspicion of transfers believed to be money laundering transfers was done between 2007 and 2015. SVT also reported that Swedbank has over fifty customers that are suspected of being shell companies that don’t seem to be doing any real business activities.

Birgitte Bonnesen was fired by the Swedbank board after a second money laundering story was run by SVT. The second story was about suspicious activities of several Baltic accounts in Swedbank’s Baltic states branches.

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