Abba’s Björn accused of 87m kronor tax fiddle

Former Abba member Björn Ulvaeus is facing a bill of 87 million kronor (12 million dollars) in back taxes, interest and charges from the Swedish Tax Board, which has accused him of 'laundering' his music income through an offshore tax haven.

Much of Ulvaeus’s wealth from his Abba days, as well as from his own music production, has been held in an endowment on the Isle of Man, off the west coast of Britain, reported Dagens Nyheter.

Royalty payments and income from record sales have been channelled through a network of trusts in Holland and other tax havens, ending up in the endowment managed by the Royal Skandia insurance company.

In the 1970s the Abba members signed a number of agreements which transferred their rights to various companies.

But the Swedish Tax Board now says that agreement was a sham, that he was operating from Sweden and that the royalties should therefore have been taxed.

In 1984 Ulvaeus moved to England but since then has lived for many years in Sweden. According to the tax board’s calculations, almost 100 million kronor in royalties were paid through the network of foreign companies between 1998 and 2003.

In 2003 Ulvaeus declared Swedish income of 2 million kronor.

“The tax board’s basis for the decision is that Björn did not sign over his rights, but they were transferred according to the rules, and not because of the tax effects,” said Björn Ulvaeus’s legal advisor, Sven Rygard, to Dagens Nyheter.

“It was for English reasons that it was done when Björn moved there in 1984. That’s what the tax board has now found fault with. Obviously we’re going to appeal against this. We’re pretty convinced that we’ll be proven correct here.”

The Swedish Tax Board’s demand includes increased tax assessment, penalty charges and interest, totalling 86.9 million kronor.

The Local


ABBA’s first album in 40 years shoots to the top of the UK charts

ABBA's first studio album in nearly 40 years has made it to the top of the UK charts, becoming the fastest seller of the year so far, the Official Charts Company said on Friday.

ABBA's first album in 40 years shoots to the top of the UK charts
ABBA's new album, 'Voyage' for sale in Stockholm at the start of this month. Photo: Jonatan Nackstrand/AFP

“Voyage” by the Swedish quartet of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid racked up 204,000 chart sales in the seven days since it was launched last Friday.

Sales gave the supergroup the biggest opening week on the UK album chart in four years since Ed Sheeran’s “Divide”, and fastest-selling album by a group in eight years.

The last fastest-seller was One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” in November 2013.

READ ALSO: Abba’s new album has arrived – tell us, what do you think?

ABBA, propelled to global fame by their 1974 Eurovision Song Contest win with “Waterloo”, split in 1982, a year after their last album, “The Visitors”.

“Voyage” is their 10th number one album in the UK: only seven other acts — The Beatles, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie — have had more.

The group said in a statement: “We are so happy that our fans seem to have enjoyed our new album as much as we enjoyed making it.

“We are absolutely over the moon to have an album at the top of the charts again.”

The 204,000 sales comprise 90 percent physical copies, including 29,900 on vinyl, making it the fastest-selling vinyl release of the 21st century.

The previous record holder was the Arctic Monkeys’ “Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino”, which sold 24,500 vinyl copies in 2018.