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Hockey chairman on ice for "shady" payments

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10:19 CEST+02:00
Malmö's well-loved ice hockey club chairman Percy Nilsson has been sentenced to one year behind bars for tax crimes. His colleague Sune Moberg faces a similar punishment while Gunnar Svensson, though on the same team, was cleared of charges.

The case revolved around the Malmö Redhawks' foreign players in the late nineties. Some salary was documented and taxes paid in Sweden, but other payments were made through an out-of-country agent. Prosecutor Håkan Litsegård said it was a system of "lies and shady deals."

Sweden's tax authorities claimed they were cheated out of nearly three million Swedish kronor, and the court agreed.

But attorneys for the convicted Nilsson and Moberg say the club had been following the rules. The prosecutor pointed out that two other Swedish hockey clubs faced punishment for similar shenanigans, but Nilsson's lawyer says to Swedish Radio "there's no comparison."

In fact, Nilsson says clubs still use a system of using out-of-country agents to pay foreign players.

Moberg's lawyer Cai Inge Holm says he'll appeal. "This is a setback for the defence, naturally. What's particularly strange is that justice didn't see that my client, as well as Percy Nilsson, was doing business in good faith. It surprises me that with Sweden's practice of using accountants and lawyers, they wouldn't see our side."

Prosecutor Litsegård isn't exactly satisfied either. "The court saw things the way we did," he admits, but says he'll be looking over the judgement to see why Svensson was cleared.

Both Svensson and Moberg are former club directors for the Malmö Redhawks. The current director, Stefan Krüger, said just enough to please the tabloids. "It doesn't feel right to comment on this since I'll leave the post in a few months. But I'm leaving because Percy Nilsson and I don't see eye-to-eye."

In the 1995-1996, the club took the bronze in the Swedish hockey championships. Since then they have not ranked in the top three in the season finals.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Sveriges Radio, Kvällsposten

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