The programme was in operation throughout the 1990s and eleven members of the firm’s management were involved, reported Dagens Nyheter.
In what appears to be a clear conflict of interest, ABB bosses were given shares in the property company Capio. ABB itself then acted as guarantor of a loan of some 400 million kronor which was invested in the company with a view to returning a profit for the beneficiaries when the firm was sold.
Land in Portugal, on which the eleven bosses were to have built summer homes, was also bought through Capio . According to DN, the bonus scheme was concealed by one senior manager, who had left ABB, acting as a decoy.
The head of information at ABB, Ingalill Östman, rejected the allegation that the programme was secret.
“The board in Zurich were aware of it,” she told TT.
But she said that the bonus programmes of the nineties were structured very differently to those of today.
“We have much stricter rules today than we had fifteen years ago.”
According to DN, Capio’s unsuccessful property deals meant that the bonus programme was an expensive failure which, in the end, did not benefit the ABB management.
The affair was discovered as part of prosecutors’ continuing investigation into a former ABB boss who was sentenced in the spring to three years’ prison for serious financial crimes. That case is being examined by the high court on Monday.
Details of ABB’s Swedish bonus programme are part of the evidence which the prosecutor is putting to bosses as part of the legal proceedings.
Prosecutor Martin Tidén at the Swedish National Economic Crimes Bureau said the objective is to show where the money in the affair came from. But he said that no criminal investigation has been launched.
“The statute of limitations is ten years and this is quite old,” said Tidén to TT.
DN reported that the former ABB boss has said he is in hospital in Bulgaria and will therefore not be attending the trial.