Sweden’s SVT Television has said that US authorities were investigating Swedbank AB’s Baltic branch after SVT handed over details of transactions between Russian weapons maker Concern Kalashnikov JSC and Kalashnikov USA, a gunmaker in Florida.
Concern Kalashnikov is one of the Russian firms on which the US had imposed sanctions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. Thus, the transactions would be a violation of US sanctions.
SVT claimed that the transactions were done on behalf of Russian billionaire Iskander Makhmudov who is a shareholder in Concern Kalashnikov and the biggest client of Swedbank AB’s Estonian branch. The total amount transferred from Concern Kalashnikov to Kalashnikov USA is $1.1M.
Swedbank AB is currently being probed by Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, and the US for allegations of using its branches in Baltic nations for carrying out suspicious transactions worth over $100 billion.
An earlier SVT broadcast of allegations of financial irregularities had led to the ouster of Swedbank CEO as well as its Chairman and other Board members.
To restore confidence, Swedbank appointed Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson as its new Chairman, but share prices have still dropped by 40% since that broadcast. Following the latest revelations, Swedbank’s share price has dropped by a further 3.7% on Wednesday.
Makhumudov’s firm has since clarified that he did not own a majority stake in Concern Kalashnikov and was only an ordinary shareholder; hence, the sanctions did not apply to him.
In its defense, Kalashnikov USA had also claimed that it did not violate any sanctions as it was making guns from parts assembled in the US.
Swedbank has clarified that it will be up to the US authorities to find out whether the transactions were a violation of the sanctions or not. It also explained that US sanctions legislation had provisions to find out whether owners had been changed to escape sanctions and on whose behalf were the transactions carried out.