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Nord Stream gift prompts bribery probe

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06:55 CET+01:00
A Swedish prosecutor is looking into suspicions of bribery and corruption after a college on the island of Gotland received a donation from Nord Stream, which wants to build a gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea.

The 5 million kronor ($574,000) donation was directed to a professor at Gotland University who had previously warned that the pipeline would come too close to a sensitive bird zone in the Baltic.

“More concrete information has emerged which gives reason to look into the question of whether one specific person has benefited from this money,” said prosecutor Malin Palmgren from the National Anti-Corruption Unit (Riksenheten mot corruption), to TV4.

In January 2007, Gotland University, with the professor serving as an expert advisor, issued a warning about the pipeline's potential to harm the bird zone.

During the summer of the same year, Nord Stream donated 5 million kronor to a research project about long-tailed ducks, the professor's area of research.

The company knew that the college would eventually issue comments about the proposed pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Russia to continental Europe.

But the university's board of directors approved the funding, which has never been a secret.

The prosecutor's preliminary investigation doesn't scare Karin Bengtsson, the interim head of Gotland University.

“We're not worried about it,” she said.

Nord Stream doesn't see any conflict of interest in its decision to help finance the research project.

The prosecutor, meanwhile, said that transparency is only one factor many to examine when determining whether or not an illegal bribe took place.

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