October 23, 2018 / 6:20 AM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-Swedbank profit beats forecast, assures on money-laundering

(Adds details, CEO comment)

STOCKHOLM, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Swedish bank Swedbank reported a higher than expected net profit for the third quarter on Tuesday and downplayed concerns its Baltic operations could be hit by similar money-laundering issues as seen among some of its peers.

Operating profit rose to 7.06 billion crowns ($782 million) from 6.19 billion a year ago, helped by higher lending volumes and a favourable stock market that boosted its asset management business. The mean forecast in poll of analysts saw operating profit at 6.37 billion.

“It is driven by our core business. We continue to deliver on our plan and we’re doing well,” Swedbank Chief Executive Birgitte Bonnesen told reporters.

The Baltic countries, were Swedbank is one of the biggest banks, have been rocked by money-laundering scandals this year.

U.S. authorities accused Latvian banks of money laundering earlier this year, forcing the closure of one local player, while Danske Bank is currently involved in a 200 billion euro ($230 billion) scandal in Estonia.

On Monday, an American-born business man widened a criminal complaint against Nordea for facilitating suspicious money transfers out of the Baltics.

“None of the names that have been out there have been customers in Swedbank, former or current,” said Bonnesen.

“But the most important thing is that we run a retail bank in the Baltic countries that is completely focused on domestic costumers.”

Net interest income, which includes revenue from mortgages and loans to companies, rose to 6.33 billion crowns from 6.21 billion crowns a year earlier, roughly in line with a forecast 6.36 billion. ($1 = 9.0181 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing Niklas Pollard)

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