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AMF board tells ex-CEO to repay pension

The board of AMF Pension said late Sunday night that they had been misled about the size of former CEO Christer Elmehagen’s pension and requested that he pay more than 20 million kronor ($2.4 million) back to the company.

AMF board tells ex-CEO to repay pension

According to an investigation by auditors, Elmehagen and former deputy CEO Ingvar Skeberg violated company the loyalty that comes with such high-ranking positions when they chose to move their own pension savings out of AMF funds ahead of the company’s announcement that it planned to cut payments to pensioners.

After reviewing the auditors’ findings, the board of directors concluded that “payments to Christer Elmehagen’s pension…were too large and aren’t in line with the intentions of his employment agreement. How that could have happened is the subject of further investigation”.

In the statement, the board added that results of the probe would be known by the end of the week at the earliest.

“What’s clear, however, is that Christer Elmehagen’s pension was not managed and documented in a sufficiently clear manner,” the statement continued.

“The board looks very seriously on what has happened and how it has affected savers’ confidence in AMF. AMF is a well-managed company. It’s my decided opinion that the recent events have to do with specific individuals and don’t reflect AMF’s values,” said board chair Göran Tunhammar in the statement.

The sum to be repaid by Elmehagen also encompasses what he earned by moving is private pension savings before AMF’s announced pension payment cuts.

“This is a sad chapter in AMF’s history and now we’re working harder than ever so savers can continue to have confidence in us,” the company said.

The turn of events was welcome news for Wanja Lundby-Wedin, the embattled head of the Trade Union Confederation (LO), which is co-owner of AMF, along with the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv).

Last week, Lundby-Wedin fended off calls for her resignation amid accusations she had not fulfilled her oversight role as a member of the AMF board.

The report from the accountants, however, vindicated Lundby-Wedin’s defence that she and the board had been misled.

“I’m upset over what has now been revealed to have taken place behind the backs of those of us on the AMF board,” she said in a statement.

“We must look under every stone and get to the bottom of everything that has gone wrong in order to ensure that pension savers get back what belongs to them, that those responsible are held to account, and that something like this never happens again.”

But Lundby-Wedin’s urgent demand that Elmehagen repay up to 20 million kronor was immediately criticized by Urban Bäckström, head of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.

“Wanja has gone out with figures which are the subject of an inquiry,” he told the TT news agency.

“We haven’t yet settled on a figure. I’m disappointed. This affects our ability to correct the mistakes. She can’t go out with figures when there’s no basis for them.”

Bäckström added that it’s clear that mistakes were made, but that the board must now defend the company.

PENSIONS

Sweden to increase retirement age from next year

A proposal for changes to Sweden’s pensions system could see incremental increases to retirement age beginning next year.

Sweden to increase retirement age from next year
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

The proposal for reform to state pensions has been agreed on by parties on both sides of the political aisle, reflecting the political agreement which provided for the new Swedish government.

Later retirement age has been justified by the claim that people in Sweden “live longer and healthier lives”, but the last twelve years of life remain characterised by illness and failing health, news agency TT writes.

According to the proposal, the minimum age at which a state pension may be drawn will increase next year from 61 to 62 years. The right to retain employment, the so-called LAS age, will also be increased, from 67 to 68 years.

“We see a problem with the fact that people who want to continue working are not able to. We will now give people the opportunity to do that,” said Mats Persson of the Liberal party, who was part of the parliamentary group behind the proposal.

In 2023, retirement ages will increase again, with the minimum state pension age changing to 63 and the LAS age to 69. The so-called guaranteed pension, which is paid to those who have had little or no pension-qualifying income during their working lives, will also see an increased age limit from 65 to 66 years.

2026 will see further extensions, to 64 years and 67 years for the regular and guaranteed pensions respectively.

In a press statement, the government wrote that longer and healthier lives made the reforms to retirement age possible. Average life expectancy in Sweden has been found to increase by 3.5 hours every day.

But longer life expectancy does not necessarily correspond to better health in senior years, according to research.

International studies led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the University of Washington recently found that Swedes have relatively high life expectancy – just under 82 years for both women and men – but that years with good health are considerably fewer, at just under 70 years.

Sweden fell outside of the top ten for countries with the most years of good health, the study found. Japan was the best-performing country, followed by Singapore, Andorra, Iceland and Cyprus.

The pensions proposal could therefore mean that retirement years will become increasingly unlikely to contain many years in which senior citizens can enjoy good health.

Persson told TT he disagreed with that conclusion.

“This agreement is based on the fact that we live longer as well as healthier lives. There is research to support that,” he said.

READ ALSO: How to manage your pension in Sweden – even if you're not planning to stay

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