International bank faces tax evasion questions

Lender summoned by regulator to answer questions after allegedly providing assistance to wealthy clients

One of the biggest lenders in Scandinavia is facing questions about potentially assisting wealthy clients with tax evasion.

Bloomberg reports that Nordea Bank AB has been called in front of a regulator in Sweden amid allegations related to the leaked documents that have been dubbed the Panama Papers. Nordea’s management will meet with the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority today (Tuesday, April 05).

The news comes to light after the International Committee of Investigative Journalists detailed how celebrities, banks, criminals and politicians around the world had been involved in offshore shell companies. The ICIJ claims to have obtained 11.5 million records highlighting the creation of at least 200,000 offshore firms. While offshore holdings can be legal, they can also be used to hide wealth.

The accusations have been rejected by Nordea with the bank stating that it “follows all rules and regulations related to these issues” in a statement on its website.

The statement goes on to read: “Our tax advice policy and ethical standards are clear; we shall not encourage or facilitate tax schemes of our customers that are regarded as tax evasion. We help our customers to pay the tax they should.”

According to the bank, it began taking “proactive measures beyond the rules and regulations and beyond standards in our industry” to prevent tax evasion back in 2009.

Though Scandinavia is widely seen as an area with low levels of corruption, Nordea is not the only company from the region to have been named in the documents. DNB ASA, the biggest lender in Norway, has also confirmed that it helped around 40 clients establish companies in the Seychelles from 2006-2010.