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Norway and the Nordic countries lag behind in the fight against financial crime

PA Consulting’s Thomas Bjørnstad, financial services expert, is quoted in an article discussing the findings from our newly launched report on the state of financial crime in the Nordics.

The report examines how players in the financial sector and the European authorities are combating money laundering and terrorist financing. It found that Norway and the Nordic countries, despite continuous improvement, are generally lagging far behind, for example, the United Kingdom.

The report emphasises that Norway, Sweden and Denmark are no exception to the need to get better at tackling financial crime. The research shows that all three have a longer way to go than many of their European counterparts and that conversations with those involved in dealing with financial crime suggest that the Nordic authorities seize - proportionally - even lower levels criminals’ money than in Europe as a whole.

Look to Britain

“In Europe, it is estimated that the authorities only manage to seize just over one percent of the proceeds from criminal activity every year. PA Consulting does not have exact figures for Norway, but our assessment is that we in the Nordic region are lower than this,” Thomas Bjørnstad told FinansWatch.

The report highlights the success of the United Kingdom’s National Economic Crime Unit and Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce which, in 2019–20 

  • Carried out more than 500 police investigations
  • Seized more than GBP 13 million
  • Made 130 arrests
  • Identified over 5000 suspicious accounts related to money laundering

The biggest difference between the approach in Norway / the Nordic countries and the United Kingdom is that there is better co-operation between the various bodies in the UK.

How to improve?

Bjørnstad emphasises that “a more holistic approach is required, with stronger common areas of operation and common technology solutions in Norway and the Nordic countries. The fight against money laundering and terrorist financing cannot be won by a single actor, individual agency or a single country alone,”

He says that a well-known but persistent example of challenges in coordinating the work against money laundering and terrorist financing is when the banks report suspicious transactions and suspected money laundering to the police but the banks only get a limited response. This weakens the bank's ability to work out what suspicious transactions actually are, and the dynamics and cooperation between private and public authorities are not as good as they could have been.

“At the same time as system level improvements must be made, there is no doubt that Nordic companies need to further develop their internal systems and routines. We work with companies in most parts of the sector, and have, for example, experienced an increasing number of requests related to payment activities in recent years,” says Bjørnstad.

On the right track

“At the same time, we want to emphasise that the developments in the cooperation between the private and public sectors is going in the right direction. An example of this is Bits and the DSOP programme,”

In the Digital Interaction Public Private (DSOP) programme, the tax administration, the Brønnøysund Register Centre, the Directorate of Digitalisation, NAV, the Police, the Mapping Authority and the financial industry collaborate on digitisation of important processes in society. Senior managers from both the public and private sectors come together and set guidelines and processes for the implementation of beneficial projects that add value.

The platform is used to improve collaboration to apply to tackling money laundering and terrorist financing, and to improve coordination.

PA Consulting’s report is based on interviews with Nordic decision-makers in both the public and private sectors, as well as the experience of the firm’s advisers who focus on combating money laundering and financial crime.

Striking back against financial crime – Explore the future vision for a pan-Nordic partnership to combat financial crime in our new report

Download report

PA Consulting in Norway

Knut Erlend Vik

Knut Erlend Vik

Financial services expert

Lars Erik Maurud

Lars Erik Maurud

Energy and utilities expert

Grete Kvernland-Berg

Grete Kvernland-Berg

Country head and government expert

Ali Rana

Ali Rana

Agile expert

Christine Høst

Christine Høst

Digital transformation expert