Ex-Skandia boss cleared

The former CEO of Swedish insurance company Skandia, Lars-Eric Petersson, has been cleared by Svea Court of Appeal of charges surrounding his handling of the very high bonuses paid out by by the company around the turn of the millennium.

The court ruled that the prosecution had not been able to prove that Skandia’s Weatherbuilder bonus programme still had an upper limit when Petersson authorized the bonuses in question in December 2000.

Skandia took Petersson to court in 2004. He was sentenced in spring of last year to two years in jail. Petersson lodged an appeal against the verdict.

In December 2006, Petersson was told he did not have to pay damages to his old company. The company had demanded 300 million kronor from its former chief.

The decision was reached by a committee appointed by the parties in the case.

“The committee ruled decisively that Lars-Eric Petersson has not done anything wrong,” said Petersson’s lawyer, Christer Brantheim at the time.

In last December’s decision, the committee – composed of two judges and a lawyer – discussed whether he had caused financial damage to Skandia.

The committee was unanimous in its judgment, according to a statement from law firm Södermark. The committee’s findings were handed to the Svea Court of Appeal as evidence that the district court’s verdict and sentence should be overturned.

“I am happy and relieved that the truth has finally come out,” Petersson said in a written statement.

Skandia had sued Petersson for 300 million kronor. Skandia’s profits and share price shot up around the year 2000 and Petersson was praised by the company’s shareholders. But many executives in the company’s US and British subsidiaries demanded more money and were granted it.

Petersson himself was not paid out of the Weatherbuilder bonus programme, but he was convicted of bypassing the company’s board and removing the programme’s ceiling. The move cost Skandia 156 million kronor, according to the verdict from Stockholm district court.