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Systembolaget sanctions to punish suppliers

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The head of the state-owned alcohol monopoly Systembolaget, has come up with a sanction model to punish corrupt wine dealers.

The distribution companies affected, Philipson & Söderberg, Åkesson Vin and Vin & Trädgårdh are set to lose millions of kronor in income when deals are cancelled.

“We think it is important for the dealers to follow the agreements we have. When that does not happen, it is important for us to take actions, especially to be fair to those who have followed the agreements,” said Anitra Steen, managing director of Systembolaget.

Staff at Philipson & Söderberg and Åkesson Vin are under suspicion of bribery.

But Jacob Melander, lawyer representing Systembolaget, explained that it is about a breach of contract and will not be dealt with by criminal courts.

“Breach of agreement is different. It is a civil law assessment that does not judge whether an action is criminal or not,” he said.

The third distributor, Vin & Trädgårdh, will be most affected, when all contracts are cancelled. Melander characterises the distributor’s bribery scheme as “very, very big” and “a business strategy”.

Vin & Trädgårdh does not accept the sanctions and instead is considering taking legal action.

Systembolaget has based their sanction-model on “actual circumstances” that have appeared during the pre-investigation. They are also based on how serious the breaches are and how they affect each distributor in question. Since it concerns a monopoly, Systembolaget cannot shut down contact with the distributors. They will all be able to make new deals in the future.

“Our starting point is that Systembolaget’s customers will not be affected by this decision and neither will innocent wine producers. That is why we are offering wine producers the opportunity to supply their products through other distributors,” said Steen.

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