By law, every bank must report transactions that raise suspicions of money laundering to the Financial Intelligence Unit, which then has the legal authority to assess the transactions in greater detail and decide what steps to take next. Finantsinspektsioon does not carry out any criminal procedures nor is it an investigatory authority with such responsibility.
Finantsinspektsioon is currently engaged in an on-site control at SEB Pank. The control covers the general organisation of the bank, and the systems and controls that it has that should help to identify transactions that may be suspected of money laundering. At the same time, Finansinspektionen, the Swedish financial supervisor, is carrying out controls at SEB in Sweden. In doing this, the Estonian and Swedish financial supervisory authorities are coordinating their work and sharing information and opinions between themselves. It is planned that the controls will end and the results are published at the latest in the first months of 2020.
The general risk assessment by Finantsinspektsioon shows that the majority of Estonian banks have reduced their riskiest transactions by non-residents from earlier levels. The share of deposits in Estonian banks held by non-residents has fallen substantially since 2014 from 20% to around 10%, with a particular fall in deposits from offshore regions from around 8% to 0.4%.
Finantsinspektsioon carried out extraordinary anti-money laundering inspections at all the banks and branches of foreign banks operating in Estonia in late 2018 and early 2019. The inspections examined the diligence measures of 16 banks in total. They looked at how the bank identified the risks in its own business activities, what risk the bank took on through its risk appetite and business strategy, how this is reflected in the control systems of the bank, and which business sectors in the client portfolio of the bank had particularly high risks. The financial supervision opinion is that the risks to Estonian banking from serving non-residents have been substantially reduced, as the majority of the banking sector is not at high risk of money laundering and was focused mainly in 2019 on serving local or related business and private clients, the general government, and the non-profit sector. For more information see the Finantsinspektsioon website.
Supervising risk control measures against money laundering has been one of the strategic priorities of Finantsinspektsioon since 2016. Finantsinspektsioon is a financial supervisory authority, whose main goal is stability and transparency in the financial market.