2019.07.17 15:30

Swedbank's alleged links to Syrian chemical weapons programme 'being analyzed' by Lithuanian central bank

BNS 2019.07.17 15:30

The Central Bank of Lithuania says it has no information to confirm claims by Swedish media on links between Swedbank group, its bank in Lithuania, and Syria's chemical weapons programme. However, the central bank is looking into information about the links with Syria.

"The information, including on this specific episode, is being collected and analyzed," Vytautas Valvonis, director of the Bank of Lithuania's Supervision Service, told BNS.

"Today, we have no facts or evidence to confirm the claims in the media. We are very cautious about such information, especially taking into account the ongoing wide-ranging investigation the Swedish supervision service is carrying out in cooperation with the Bank of Lithuania and the supervision institutions in the other Baltic states," he said.

Valvonis confirmed that information was being collected as part of the international investigation into alleged money laundering via Danske Bank, Swedbank and other banks.

The central bank will hand over the investigation-related information to the Financial Crime Investigation Service responsible for looking into illegal financial operations.

The Swedish daily Dagens Industri reported on Monday that Swedbank was linked to a transaction used to fund Syria's chemical weapons program.

According to the news website, which was the first to report this information in Lithuania, the transaction involved Swedbank clients in Lithuania who entered into transactions with one or more clients of FBME, a bank with non-transparent reputation.

According to Verslo Žinios, a Lithuanian daily, clients in Lithuania undertook one or several transactions with FBME bank headquarted in Tanzania. Its parent organization is the Federal Bank of Lebanon SAL, according to public information, and is also active in Russia and Cyprus.

US tax authorities have reportedly questioned Swedbank over its ties with FBME, and have previously blocked its access to the US after finding links to arms and drug trafficiking, terrorist financing and money laundering.

According to Dagens Industri, FBME was closed in 2017 after being linked to Syria's chemical weapons programme.