Senior Skandia man faces bribe charges

The former head of personnel at Swedish insurer Skandia, Ola Ramstedt, has been charged with serious breach of trust for allegedly allowing more than 17 million kronor of company funds to be used for renovating directors' apartments.

“He is suspected of allowing Skandia to pay 17, 592,000 kronor as ‘extra costs’ in connection with the renovation of apartments reserved for leading decision makers in Skandia and their families. A further two Skandia employees are being charged as accessories to the crime,” wrote chief prosecutor Christer van der Kwast, announcing the prosecution.

Ramstedt is also being charged for bribing a Skandia employee. The employee in question is also being prosecuted.

Van der Kwast says that Ramstedt wrote a false invoice dated 18th December 2001.

“The invoice was approved by Ramstedt. In the invoice that was filed in Skandia’s accounts as evidence of the payment, the amount on the invoice was given as 17,952,000 which purported to be payment for rebuilding Skandia’s head office on Sveavägen,” wrote van der Kwast.

The other two Skandia employees who have also been charged were responsible for property matters within the Skandia group.

“They have aided and abetted the crime through gathering the information for the invoice and cooperating in seeing to it that the false invoice was drawn up and authorized by Skandia.”

One of them, Håkan Lennersand, received six million kronor and has therefore been charged with bribery. When the crime was committed he was head of Diligentia, Skandia’s property company.

Suspicions that former finance director Ulf Spång had broken laws forbidding companies from lending money to employees or shareholders have now been dropped. Prosecutors will report back later on suspicions of serious tax crimes.

The news that the company had awarded large bonuses to executives and funded the renovation of their luxury apartments caused a small scandal in Sweden when it became known in 2003.

The Skandia group has recently been the subject of takeover moves from British-South African insurer Old Mutual, although the Skandia board has rejected the approaches.

TT/The Local


Scania review board dissects Volkswagen bid

The independent committee looking at Volkswagen's take-over bid of Swedish truck giant Scania began its work on Tuesday, stating promises that headquarters would remain in Sweden were paramount.

Scania review board dissects Volkswagen bid
IF Metall Union representative Johan Järvklo sits on the independent review board. File: TT

Åsa Thunman was appointed chairwoman of the committee, which has invited financial consultants from Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley as well as legal advisors from Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling to assist them in their appraisal.

Thunman said in a statement that the committee would look at whether the $9.2 billion bid was in the best interest of Scania shareholders.

The effect on Swedish industry would also be considered, underlined committee board member Peter Wallenberg Jr.

"It has noted that Volkswagen does not foresee any significant changes with regards to Scania and that Scania’s headquarters and its development centres will remain where they are today," Wallenberg Jr. said. "These matters are of course of importance to the company and for Sweden.”

At the plant in Södertälje, employees have been busy discussing the bid. Assembly line worker Ahmed told The Local that his colleagues did not fear that production would be relocated to Germany.

"They couldn't possibly move all these machines and equipment," Ahmed, which is not his real name, told The Local on Tuesday. "But everyone on the floor has been discussing the offer."

Volkswagen tabled their $9.2 billion bid to swallow up Scania last Friday. It already owns 89 percent of Scania's voting rights and 62.6 percent of the company, with VW eager to secure the nearly 40 percent they do not own. The takeover has encountered resistance from two of Scania's minority owners, however. Both insurance outfit Skandia and pension fund AP4 have expressed reservations about selling up to Volkswagen.

“Scania’s prerequisites to maintain its leading position are better as a listed company than as a subsidiary in a larger group. Skandia doesn't intend to accept the offer," Caroline af Ugglas, head of equities at Skandia, told Bloomberg over the weekend.

Scania, which was founded in 1891 and has operations in more than 100 countries, boasts 38,600 employees. Around 16,000 work with sales and servicescross the company's subsidiaries, and over 12,000 work in production units. The company has headquarters in the Swedish town of Södertälje, where almost 6,000 employees work. The headquarters also hosts the research and development operations, with 3,300 employees.

"Changing owners won't make any difference to us in the near future," assembly line worker Ahmed said. "But we do wonder if the rules will change later on."