• Sweden's news in English

"Thousands blacklisted" in Malmö property scandal

The Local · 25 Jan 2005, 03:16

Published: 25 Jan 2005 03:16 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Individuals within the organisation stand accused of illegal discrimination and misuse of personal data and, if convicted, could face up to two years in prison.

For four days the Malmö-based Sydsvenskan has supported its allegations with increasingly damaging evidence gathered from a "secret register" in two "packed files", which was supplied to the newspaper by an unnamed source.

The list apparently contains several thousand names, sorted alphabetically, along with personal numbers, address and "a short commentary about why they have been blacklisted".

According to its web site, MKB has a policy of equality towards potential tenants.

"We want to emphasise that everyone has the same opportunity to get an apartment with MKB," says the company, which is 100% owned by the city of Malmö.

But Sydsvenskan detailed numerous factors which, they allege, were reasons why MKB did not give them apartments.

One man was on the list because he was "suspected of being Bosnian".

The paper said that there were many examples of people who were registered "simply because they happen to know someone who MKB classed as undesirable", such as one man who "has a brother who's a real troublemaker".

Others seem to have fallen foul of even more subjective evaluations, such as the man described as "untalented and rather alone" or the woman who was said to give out "slightly strange signals when you meet her".

Thousands were simply described as "someone to avoid".

Both the Data Inspection Board and Malmö's chief prosecutor will investigate the register, according to Aftonbladet.

"Personal details should always be treated in a correct and fair way," said Anders Wiklund, the Data Inspection Board's lawyer.

"They should be adequate and relevant and the main rule is that the registered person should have given his or her consent - something which doesn't exactly seem to have happened in this case," he told news agency TT.

Aftonbladet noted that the penalty for breaking personal data laws is fines or prison for up to two years.

Sven-Erik Alhem, the chief prosecutor, told Sydsvenskan that the information provided by the paper was enough for him to begin his own investigation.

"As a prosecutor you have to be careful with information in the mass media about suspected crimes, but these details are so concrete that we must act immediately," he said.

Predictably, the first reaction from MKB management was to deny knowledge of the blacklist. At a press conference after Sydsvenskan's initial revelations, MKB's head of sales, Eva Wiberg-Sunzel - who is also in charge of the company's information service - was asked if she had seen information about tenants' race or religion.

"That's not something I have noticed during the time I've worked here," she replied.

But the following day, the paper published an excerpt from an email apparently sent by Wiberg-Sunzel, in which she described a potential tenant as "black with a French accent".

"I misunderstood the question," she explained later.

"I thought the question was put to me as head of sales. As head of sales I haven't written this email and I sincerely apologise for the use of language. Black or white or green doesn't make any difference."

Another senior member of staff at MKB, head of property Michael Carlsson, allegedly told staff not to reveal why applicants for apartments were denied contracts.

Politicians have been quick to criticise the organisation for its policy.

Mona Sahlin, the minister for Sustainable Development, called for legislation to control property companies' selection procedures, while local councillors demanded a response from MKB's managing director, Lars Birve.

"We must be crystal clear about this," said the Social Democrats' Anders Rubin. "We absolutely cannot tolerate people being treated differently on the grounds of ethnic, cultural or religious persuasion or sexual orientation."

"This communal company ought to have set an example, but obviously all property owners must adhere to the demands of equality," added Rubin.

Story continues below…

Birve responded defiantly on Sunday with a statement on the company's web site.

"MKB has no secret list/register of customers or apartment-seekers," he wrote.

"This "register" which the media is referring to is not an MKB register but a print-out of emails sent several years ago. These have been archived by a single employee."

He went on to explain that when people looking for apartments register with the company, certain information is required as part of the standard process.

However, on Monday Sydsvenskan hit back with the headline "Abused women blacklisted".

The paper said that a number of violent men "who risk damaging apartment interiors and disturbing neighbours" were on the blacklist.

But it also said that "women who had been systematically terrorised by husbands, fathers, brothers, partners and boyfriends" were registered. The reason was that MKB considered that there was a risk that they could be attacked by the men - and that could disturb the neighbours.

Sources: Sydsvenskan, SVT, Aftonbladet, www.malmo.se

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Look familiar? Meet your jawbone's ancestor
Thank God for evolution, eh?

There's something fishy about the human jawbone – it has its origins in the placodermi, a jowly species of fish that lived 400 million years ago, Swedish and Chinese researchers say.

Isis claims unremarked arson attack in Malmö
The arson attack took place on Norra Grängesbergsgatan in Malmö. File photo: Emil Langvad/TT

An arson attack in Malmö that caused only minor damage and was barely reported in the media has been claimed by terror group Isis.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available