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AMF demands pension refund from ex-CEO

Swedish pensions firm AMF Pension has concluded that ex-CEO Christer Elmehagen received a higher pension than that agreed and has demanded that he repay the difference.

At a board meeting on Friday AMF Pension was given access to a report into the pensions scandal that broke in March.

According to an AMF Pension press release Elmehagen’s pension was “considerably higher than that agreed by the remuneration committee in the contract signed with the CEO in 2004.”

AMF Pension chairperson Göran Tunhammar explains that the reason for the high pensions premiums between the second half of 2006 and 2008 is contained in the text of annual reports published in 2006, 2007 and 2008 which are erroneous.

“The root of the problem is that when we passed Christer Elmehagen’s sixtieth birthday the impression is given that there remained outstanding payments from the old pensions agreement from 1998,” Göran Tunhammar said to news agency TT.

In actual fact obligations according to the 1998 agreement had already been met by the time Elmehagen celebrated his sixtieth birthday, he said.

Tunhammar was unwilling to confirm how much money AMF Pension is demanding from Christer Elmehagen, but states that it concerns a considerable sum.

AMF Pension’s ex-CEO Christer Elmehagen told TT that he had not divulged faulty information in the annual reports.

“The information that has been divulged has been presented on the basis of prior knowledge of my agreement. It is also known that 10 of the 11 board members have not read the agreement, it is then easy to misunderstand,” he said.

Elmehagen welcomes a discussion of the issue with AMF.

“I think it is positive that they invite me to engage in a discussion and that they want to resolve the matter amicably.”

On the issue of whether he would be prepared to pay back a portion of his pension he replied:

“That is the issue that the discussions with AMF shall consider, if I understand it correctly.”

The report also covered Elmehagen’s timely decision to move his pensions investment to avoid a cut in the dividend rate.

“The move contradicts the CEO’s obligation of loyalty and should be considered a breach of contract,” AMF Pension wrote in a company press release.

Elmehagen claims that he is willing to repay the money he has earned from moving his pensions investment if the board can show that the rules stipulate that he should not have done so.

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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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