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Remand order for Red Cross fraud suspect

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08:38 CEST+02:00
The former head of communications at the Swedish Red Cross (Röda Korset) has been remanded in custody on suspicions of having defrauded the organization.

The remand order comes from prosecutor Alf Johansson, who is investigating Johan af Donner on suspicions of aggravated breach of trust toward a principal and aggravated fraud.

Af Donner was fired from the Red Cross at the end of May after it came to light that the organization had paid out significant sums to settle fake invoices.

Upon discovering the suspicious invoices, the Red Cross accounting department sought help from external accountants to conduct a comprehensive investigation.

After a complaint was filed with police, Johansson with the prosecutor’s anti-corruption unit launched a preliminary investigation.

Suspicions against af Donner grew after he was questioned and a search warrant was carried out.

“Things have now become clear enough that I requested on Saturday that he be remanded in custody,” Johansson told the TT news agency.

Af Donner must now bide his time in a remand centre pending the filing of formal charges by the prosecutor.

“He’s been remanded in custody because of the risk of tampering with evidence because he could destroy existing proof. He’s also being held because of the risk he might flee,” said Johansson.

Just two days before he was arrested by police, af Donner sold his four-bedroom apartment in Stockholm's posh Östermalm neighbourhood, the Dagens Media newspaper reports.

The apartment had a list price of 15 million kronor ($1.9 million), and was put up for sale in May around the time af Donner left the Red Cross.

After the billing scandal was uncovered, there have been questions at Swedish Red Cross headquarters about the functioning of internal billing controls.

Some are asking whether af Donner had too much authority and could therefore skirt internal controls.

From 1997 to 2004, he was employed by the Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden), which has asked its own accountants to carry out a preliminary investigation into whether or not af Donner may have committed any fraud there.

Swedish Red Cross secretary general Christer Zettergren and board chair Bengt Westerberg preferred not to comment on af Donner’s remand order.

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