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Red Cross official admits multi-million kronor fraud

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Red Cross official admits multi-million kronor fraud
11:25 CEST+02:00
The trial began on Wednesday of former Swedish Red Cross communications chief Johan af Donner, who quickly confessed to swindling the aid organisation and the Swedish Cancer Fund out of millions of kronor.

Prosecutor Alf Johansson listed a long list of charges when the trial opened at Stockholm District Court.

"Both in the cases of the Red Cross and the Swedish Cancer Fund we're talking about serious and systematic criminal activity over a period of many years," he said.

Af Donner, who could face a lengthy jail term if convicted, has been charged along with two alleged accomplices, who deny many of the charges against them.

The former Red Cross communications director is charged with aggravated fraud and aggravated bribery and his accomplices are charged with aggravated bribery, aggravated accounting fraud and aggravated fiscal fraud.

The Red Cross said the fraud amounted to 7.7 million kronor ($1.1 million). The suspects are accused of stealing 5.2 million kronor from the Red Cross between 2004 and 2009, and 2.5 million kronor from the Swedish Cancer Society, where af Donner had previously worked, between 2000 and 2003.

Af Donner, who worked for the Red Cross until the middle of last year, is accused of making up fake invoices with the help of his unidentified accomplices, who worked for suppliers.

"He wants to do the right thing and repair the damage he has caused," said af Donner's lawyer Leif Silbersky.

The legal counsel underlined however that his client denied the charges of bribery.

"We don't share the prosecutor's point of view with regard to the alleged bribery and I intend to attempt to ensure the consequences for him [af Donner] are as reasonable as possible," said Silbersky.

Some 4.2 million kronor of the total amount owed to the Red Cross and the Swedish Cancer Fund has already been secured through the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden).

"I'm glad we discovered the irregularities and reported them to the police, which in turn has led to a trial," said Red Cross secretary general Christer Zettergren.

"The accused are now being brought to account and the Red Cross can get on with its activities," he added.

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