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Senior civil servant "conned Swedish ministers"

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10:07 CEST+02:00
A senior civil servant working in the Swedish central government offices is suspected of running a funding application scam. By submitting false applications from invented organisations, he is thought to have siphoned almost a million kronor to a private account.

According to Thursday's Expressen, the man has conned prime minister Göran Persson, as well as the minister for equality and integration, Jens Orback, and the minister for sustainable development, Mona Sahlin.

"This is going to have consequences on different levels, including the control routines," a source told the tabloid.

"It is ridiculous that the government could have been conned to easily."

The man, who is in his 40s, allegedly exploited his responsibility for preparing funding applications for ministers' consideration. He is said to have faked applications by using women's names - "such as Elin and Anna," noted Expressen - and putting them before ministers who would propose funding at government meetings.

The task then fell to the civil servant himself to perform a "thorough investigation" before funding was awarded.

Four specific cases, amounting to 875,000 kronor, have been uncovered but Expressen's sources said there are indications that there could be more.

The government's security department has apparently been keeping a close eye on the man since the autumn. In the first week of July the man was confronted with the evidence and the week the prime minister's secretary of state, Lars Danielsson, handed the matter over to the state prosecutor.

"This shows that the control routines in the government offices work," said Danielsson.

But there was more embarrassment than satisfaction in Jens Orback's office.

"This is unbelievably regrettable and unfortunate - it really shouldn't happen," Orback's secretary of state, Lise Bergh, told news agency TT.

"It's hard to protect yourself completely from such acts from within an organisation," she said.

Expressen managed to speak to the civil servant, who is on holiday and still holds his position.

"I dispute the allegations," he said, but acknowledged that he was expecting to be fired after the summer break.

He says that while the organisations were not faked, he was a member of them. But he says that he personally did not profit from the funding awards.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen

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