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Former Red Cross chief faces court in fraud case

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Former Red Cross chief faces court in fraud case
11:26 CET+01:00
The former head of communications of the Swedish Red Cross (Röda Korset), Johan af Donner, is to be tried on embezzlement charges after investigations reveal he swindled charities out of nearly 8 million kronor ($1.13 million).

Af Donner, along with two accomplices from a supply firm to the charity, are believed to have pocketed money with the aid of false invoices. The three now face up to six years in prison.

”I feel both sorrow and anger,” Red Cross general secretary Christer Zettergren told TT.

”I believe most people who donate money understand that this is about a individual person who has cheated us and nothing else.”

Last year, suspicions were raised within the organisation that large amounts of money were going amiss.

When head office employees raised the alarm an investigation concluded with the arrest of Af Donner who was immediately suspended from his position.

Further investigations have revealed he was also embroiled in a fraud scheme while working for the Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden) between 1997 and 2004, before he joined the Red Cross.

The case involves the duplication of invoices relating to supplies and services. The suspects are to be tried on a number of charges including gross fraud, bribery and accounting irregularities.

The trio are believed to have shared 5.7 million kronor from the Red Cross and pocketed a sum of 2.5 million kronor from the Swedish Cancer Society.

Af Donner is also accused of swindling a further 390,000 kronor from Red Cross accounts of his own accord.

His lawyer Leif Silbersky was brief in his comments to the press.

“My client is informed and he will account for his behaviour before the court,” he told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

“I will also present my point of view on the charges. That is all I have to say for the moment.”

Chief prosecutor Alf Johansson is demanding damages, company fines for the supply firm as well as a ban on all three suspects starting their own companies in the future.

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