Vin & Sprit staff investigated in bribery scandal

The corruption scandal engulfing Systembolaget, the state-run alcohol retailer, this week sucked in four employees of Vin & Sprit (V&S), the state-run alcohol producer.

Prosecutor Ewa Nyhult said that four suppliers were being investigated for bribing employees of Systembolaget.

“We have carried out house-raids and taken a few bits and pieces which we’re going to have a good look at,” she said, although she would not confirm that the four worked at V&S, whose most famous product is Absolut Vodka.

However, Margareta Nyström, the head of information at V&S, was far more forthcoming.

“One person was employed on a consultancy contract which has not been renewed, but the other three are still working with us,” she said.

According to Wednesday’s Dagens Nyheter an internal investigation at V&S last year revealed that there were no clear guidelines for staff selling to Systembolaget stores. That resulted in offers to managers of expensive meals and free tickets to concerts, shows and sports events.

Between any other companies this would simply be written off as necessary hospitality on one side, and fully exploited as welcome freebies on the other side. But where two state-owned companies are involved it counts as corruption and some 90 employees of Systembolaget are now being investigated. 77 of those suspected are shop managers in the alcohol monopoly.

Meanwhile, Moderate Party politician Per Bill this week attempted to climb quietly back onto his bar stool – sorry, pedestal – but the papers managed to pull it away from under him once again.

Svenska Dagbladet reported that Bill slunk back into parliament after a ‘time out’, having gained notoriety in September by allegedly assaulted a female security guard as he was staggering home from a wine tasting in Stockholm with his son in a pram.

Bill, the Moderate Party’s alcohol spokesman – yes, really – explained that the attack on the woman resulted from a panic reaction when she approached him from behind. Apparently he has received several threats, including a number from Nazis.

But the guard told another story. She claimed she intervened when she saw an intoxicated man running wobbly with a pram near the water.

Per Bill told Upsala Nya Tidning that he has used his time off to get a professional opinion on whether he has an alcohol problem or not.

“I am 99 per cent sure that I do not have an alcohol problem,” he said. “I would have been 100 per cent sure had it not been for this traumatic event and all the headlines.”

Prosecutor Katarina Bergström told Uppsala Nya Tidning that the investigation is still ongoing but Per Bill denied that he will leave parliament as a result of the charge.

“During this time I have received fantastic support from the party leaders, friends and family and there is a lot left for me to do in the parliament,” he told the newspaper.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Upsala Nya Tidning