Foto: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Swedish banks enabled large suspected fraud-case in the Baltics

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SVT News can reveal that the Swedish banks Swedbank and SEB, despite a long series of warning signals, have helped a corporate network in Latvia. The company has the past two years funneled large amounts of euros to crypto exchange companies, letter box companies and Maltese banks. Up to 30 million euros has disappeared. Over two thousand European investors have probably lost everything they have invested in the extensive fraud-like business. Behind one of the companies that has received money are two wellknown businessmen in Latvia with close connection to the Latvian government and presidency.

Envestio was one of about ten fast-growing loan platforms in Latvia. Until recently, they offered private individuals a return of up to 22 percent. The money would be passed on to start-ups as short-term loans. The company had its main accounts, first in SEB and then Swedbank.

For example, according to Envestio's website until January last year, a cryptocurrency farm in Riga received almost 4 00 000 euros from various savers.

At the address in Riga where the cryptocurrency company is registered, there is today only an old abandoned factory building in concrete from the Soviet era, which is completely empty.

A strong warning

Cryptocurrency is, according to financial crime experts, a strong warning signal about suspected crime and money laundering.

Behind one of the companies that received money through the Envestio accounts in SEB and Swedbank are two Latvian businessmen with close connections to the Latvian political elite. Uldis Mierkalns is a substantial donator of money to Latvian politicians with sums donated to one of the parties that’s part of the government coalition.

The second businessman is the infamous security company owner Martin Tenbergs. Tenbergs was the bodyguard of the former Latvian president Vaika Vike-Freiberga and he also helped former president Valdis Zatlers found the Zatlers party of reform.

SVT has reviewed all Envestio's 31 investment projects. Pluss another 12 companies that received money through Envestio's accounts in SEB and Swedbank. Behind the projects we find a wide range of companies in, among others, the Czech Republic, Poland and Cyprus that do not appear to have any business.

In addition to the Swedish banks, Envestio had accounts in three financial institutions in Malta.

Swedbank said in an interview with SVT that they ”understand that a police investigation is underway in this case”. SEB does not want to be interviewed. In an email, the communications manager writes that they know Envestio well and that they are working closely with the authorities to stop the fraud. Both banks made no comments about the company due to customer confidentiality.

Correction: A previous version of this article wrongly stated that Mierkalns is the second largest donator of money to Latvian political parties. He is a substantial donor, but not the second largest.

The new version also clarifys that the payment from Envestio was made to a company indirectly controlled by two Latvian businessmen

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