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RED CROSS

Red Cross official admits multi-million kronor fraud

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.

Red Cross official admits multi-million kronor fraud

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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RED CROSS

WyWallet cancels mobile payment policy

It has become easier to make SMS payments and charity donations in Sweden as WyWallet has decided to scrap its maligned registration policy introduced in February.

WyWallet cancels mobile payment policy

Swedish charities and NGOs suffered a downturn in SMS donations after Sweden’s four main mobile network operators – Telia, Tele2, Tre and Telenor – introduced mandatory online registrations for mobile phone money transfers on February 1st.

With the new rules, mobile operators required their customers to register online, including the submission of sensitive personal information, in order to greenlight a money transfer via text message.

“When the new SMS-rules were introduced we lost 92 per cent of our SMS-donations. Now we can hopefully get some of that back,” Swedish Red Cross wrote on Twitter.

The organization published its figures at the end of February, comparing SMS donations to February 2012, and warned the drop could have humanitarian consequences.

Swedish Unicef and Doctors Without Borders also saw a sharp reduction in donations.

Charities blamed the mobile operators’ new money transfer system, WyWallet, which required potential donors to fill in their personal identification number (personnummer) and credit card details.

In addition to being cumbersome, the registration process also raised privacy concerns among the public, despite reassurances by WyWallet that it does not share any personal information with third parties.

At the time,WyWallet’s head of marketing, Adam Hasslert, told news agency TT that the payment services law requires that a client be identified before a transaction is made.

The law came into force after an EU directive was introduced to counteract money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.

However, TT noted that the law does not require all mobile payments to be subject to client registration.

WyWallet received sharp criticism from companies, too, with traders noting a negative effect on sales.

The biggest user of SMS payments, Stockholm Public Transport (Storstockholms Lokaltrafik), also reacted negatively to WyWallet.

In 2012, Stockholm commuters bought 11.1 million SMS tickets, corresponding to six per cent of ticket sales.

TT/The Local/nr Follow The Local on Twitter

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