One of the Swedish ‘Big Four’ banks, Nordea, arbitrarily refused to grant a bank account to former Sweden Democrat (SD) politician Simon Alm’s company – he believes the bank blacklisted him because of his political background.
However, after Simon had contacted several alternative media channels, the bank suddenly changed its mind without any further explanation and Alm is suddenly welcome as a corporate customer.
Before he was expelled from the party in 2020 for alleged “activities detrimental to the party”, Simon Alm had been an elected politician for the Sweden Democrats for ten years, including as district chairman of the Sweden Democrats in Uppsala.
In the spring of 2023, he will take over a company that focuses on selling massage and rehabilitation equipment online – a company that for fourteen years has had its accounts with Nordea, where Simon is also a customer and has his mortgage. So Simon couldn’t imagine that opening his own business account with the same bank would be a problem.
– It’s not mail order drugs or anything exciting like that. It’s very harmless. Far from politics or other risk categories that are flagged by Facebook and banks for trying to influence society, he says.
However, problems arose. Nordea announced that it would not allow the store to continue to have its accounts with the bank after Simon took over.
– I got cold feet and thought: “Shit, this is not good”, he tells Swedish alternative media outlet Samnytt.
– If the big banks say no, you don’t have access to the revenue you get through Shopify (a large e-commerce platform). It was more or less a death sentence, he continues.
In the following weeks, Simon Alm is in intensive contact with Nordea and submits new documents, a new application with a new business plan and detailed descriptions of the different parts of the business. However, he was finally told that he was denied an account with Nordea.
– It was a combination of ‘overall assessment’ and ‘lack of customer knowledge’. I asked what I could add to the application, but they said it didn’t matter.
– It was a flat out no. I didn’t understand anything. Strange as hell! So the only logical thing was that they looked at my Facebook profile and saw that I have a background in SD, googled my name or something similar, he speculates.
After the bank’s strange decision, Alm contacted several alternative media outlets to tell them about the incident, and shortly afterwards Nordea contacted him again to let him know that his company would keep its bank account with them after all.
– I just finished the conversation with Nordea, which was a complete turnaround. I don’t know what you have done – he exclaims to journalist Mattias Albinsson on Samnytt.
Nordea Bank Abp is the larges bank in the Nordic region and one of the 10 largest financial operators in Europe.
Nordea has its roots in some of the oldest banks in the Nordic region, but was made into its current form by a series of merges and acquisitions of several Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian banks between 1997 and 2001.
In spite of its well-established position as well as warnings from the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority Finansinspektionen (FI), Nordea has since 2007 been part of numerous scandals, most notably by its repeated involvement in deals related to offshore tax-havens. Nordea was mentioned 10,902 times in the Panama papers, which demonstrated the bank's involvement in highly dubious affairs involving secrecy jurisdictions in Bermuda, Cyprus, Panama, The Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man etc.
The 9 largest shareholders of Nordea are as follows (data from 2019):
1. Nordea Fonden, 3.9%
2. Blackrock, 2.9%
3. Alecta, 2.8%
4. Vanguard Funds, 2.7%
5. Cevian Capital, 2.3%
6. Swedbank Robur Funds, 2.0%
7. Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company, 1.5%
8. Nordea Funds, 1.1%
9. Norwegian Petroleum Fund, 1.0%