For the last ten years Ola Rask has collected his government salary as well as full-time pay for president of Rönneberga, the conference and training centre for Sweden’s largest federation of unions, LO.
“I have two salaries and this is always something to be discussed,” he admitted. “But it’s not up to me, it’s up to the board.”
According to Dagens Nyheter Rask around 50,000 crowns a month, including benefits, from his parliamentary job and another 40,000 crowns a month from his position at Rönneberga.
Rask’s car – a Volvo S60, sniffed Aftonbladet – is paid for by the union job. But he often uses it while wearing his parliamentary hat, in particular when driving from home to the office. When he does that, he gets reimbursed for the mileage.
Dagens Nyheter estimated that he’s collected hundreds of thousands of crowns in reimbursements. Rask is supposed to pay tax on such benefits, but he told Aftonbladet he “doesn’t remember” how much he’s paid for using the car personally.
Annalena Hanell Carpelan, at parliament’s administrative service for representatives, told Svenska Dagbladet that she didn’t know Rask had a company car, and that she’ll review his reimbursement requests and submit a report to the tax authorities.
From the union perspective, detailed records are usually kept of presidents’ mileage and certified by an authorized accountant. Easy enough for Rask: Rönneberga’s accountant is his daughter.
Rask is, however, looking out for the little guy – that is, if it’s a little Rask.
Nothing gets up the Stockholm press’s nose so much as people of influence jumping the city’s lengthy property queue and the news that Rask’s three children have all had help in finding “luxury apartments” has caused quite a stir.
His son’s 85 square metre apartment had been recently had a “top-quality renovation” which was paid for by the LO union. His daughter, the accountant, moved into an apartment reserved for Rönneberga employees.
Though she works for LO, the son has no full-time professional connection.
“We had specifically written in the rental contract that we would use his… yes, his help in crisis situations and so on,” said Rask in an attempt to justify the arrangement.
But the answer did not satisfy Aftonbladet, and the paper demanded to know more about precisely what kind of emergencies Rask’s son was on standby to deal with.
“That’s hard to say,” said Rask. “He’s been given the task of updating the web site before May. Then maybe he’ll have to deal with a music booking or stand in at reception if someone gets sick.”
In a complicated twist, the son acquired the lease on the apartment after switching contracts, a common and legal practice in Sweden, with another apartment. That apartment was owned by Rask’s other son, making the switch both convenient and suspicious.
Rules about the union-owned property are strict and officials say they will look into the matter.
Rask’s own sizeable home also comes with his job as president of Rönneberga and, as he pointed out to Aftonbladet, when he leaves he’ll have to move out of the property.
“I live in a house which comes with the job,” he emphasised. “The day I finish I won’t have a place to live.”
Rask is due to retire in the summer, at which point the Vice President of the conference and training centre will take over the job – and the property.
The Vice President is one Mrs Ola Rask.