Skandia prosecutor demands long jail sentence

During his concluding pleadings in the trial of former Skandia chief Lars-Eric Petersson, prosecutor Christer van der Kwast demanded a prison sentence "at the high end of the punishment scale" for the crime of "breach of trust against a principal".

Under Swedish law a guilty verdict could result in up to six years’ imprisonment.

The prosecutor also called for Lars-Eric Petersson to be banned from involvement in business.

Around 30 people have appeared as witnesses in Stockholm district court in the trial, among them several of the country’s most well-known business people.

The trial, which began in the middle of February, has so far run smoothly. Enormous sums of money have been discussed and there are still many question marks concerning who did what during Skandia’s period of massive bonuses from 1997 to the early years of this decade.

Many witnesses, and primarily former board members, professed to having gaps in their memory, or a blurry understanding, regarding the extension of the Wealthbuilder bonus programme in January 2000.

Prosecutor Christer van der Kwast has tried to convince the court’s judges that Lars-Eric Petersson circumvented the board in raising the ceiling on the Wealthbuilder programme.

That ended up costing Skandia at least 185 million kronor more than it should have done, he said.

Additionally, the prosecutor will try to convince the court that Petersson changed his own pension deal, meaning that Skandia risked paying out 37 million kronor more than agreed.

Lars-Eric Petersson’s lawyers, led by Torgny Wetterberg, have throughout the trial claimed that the prosecution – based on a report by lawyer Otto Rydbeck – is unfounded and poorly supported by the evidence.

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."