Swedish government wants to give banks additional powers

The crisis of confidence in banks

Published 1 September 2023
- By Editorial Staff
Ulf Kristersson and Minister of Justice Gunnar Strömmer (file photo).

In practice, money laundering and terrorist financing laws have allowed banks in Sweden to close accounts at will, often for obvious political reasons.

The government now wants to further strengthen the banks’ powers and is now setting up a working group that will, according to its terms of reference, “counter and make it more difficult for criminals to exploit the financial systems”.

It’s about increasing the overall systemic power to fight economic crime”, said Minister of Justice Gunnar Strömmer (M) at yesterday’s press conference.

Gunnar Strömmer argues that it is “essential” to further strengthen the banks’ powers, arguing that financial crime has “caught up with and overtaken” drug trafficking as a major source of income for criminal groups.

The new task force will consist of representatives from both the Justice and Finance Ministries. The working group’s priority areas are said to be combating fraud, making money laundering/terrorist financing and other financial crimes more difficult, and the somewhat vague concept of “countering risks in the payment system”.

– We believe that banks can use some of their profitability to make their operations more resilient and robust against money laundering, crime and terrorist financing”, says Minister of Financial Markets Niklas Wykman (M), who also attended Tuesday’s press conference.

Banks, which have made huge profits in recent years in an otherwise strained national economy, are also being urged to tighten their procedures and control systems even further, despite warnings from individuals, small businesses and aid organizations who have suffered unwarranted closures and cancelled bank accounts.

“Increased communication between police and banks”

The working group will also work to “increase the exchange of information between the police and banks to combat money laundering. On October 1, a revised law will come into force that strengthens the police’s ability to use covert coercive measures.

According to the Minister of Justice, a large number of fraud crimes, which individually do not have a sufficiently high penalty value for the use of coercive measures, will soon be able to be “added up” so that the crimes as a whole reach the level of seriousness at which citizens can be spied on.

In addition, covert coercive measures can now be used for more types of crime, such as serious fraud, extortion, perjury, serious money laundering offenses and money laundering”, Gunnar Strömmer comments on the bill.

 

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