News2020.02.19 15:00

Swedbank failed to mitigate scandal damage in Lithuania

BNS 2020.02.19 15:00

Following money laundering scandals in the Baltics, Sweden’s Swedbank suffered more public damage in Lithuania than SEB after opting not to communicate efficiently with the media.

A wave of criticism followed the news in 2019 that billions of allegedly ‘dirty’ euros might have been laundered via Swedbank, said Milda Žarnauskaitė, an analyst from media monitoring company Mediaskopas.

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“The crisis lasted around three months until the end of May,” said Žarnauskaitė, adding that around half of all media reports about Swedbank were negative.

Meanwhile, after SEB acknowledged similar offences late last year, the media reaction was more passive.

"The unrest lasted around a month, until the end of December. During this period, the number of negative-tone publications in the money laundering context exceeded 80. And those articles made around 18 percent of all reports related to the bank," Zarnauskaite said.

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"The bank seems to have avoided communication with media representatives since the very start of the crisis,” she said, adding that in 11 percent of the crisis-related coverage Swedbank refused to provide comments.

This led to expert comments being included in 35 percent of the analysed news reports, meanwhile Swedbank's comments were found only in 28 percent of the articles.

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On the contrary, SEB chose an active communication strategy and provided comments to journalists. The bank’s position was found in as much as 73 percent of all crisis-related reports. Meanwhile, experts commented on the SEB crisis in only 11 percent of analysed stories.

"The bank rushed to report the fact it had cut business ties with the majority of suspicious clients and regularly issued statements suggesting that it was dealing with the challenges," the Mediaskopas analyst said.

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