‘Jail Red Cross fraudster for 5 years’: Prosecutor

The prosecutor in the trial of Johan af Donner called on Wednesday for the former Red Cross communications chief to be imprisoned for five years for swindling both the Red Cross and the Swedish Cancer Society out of millions of kronor.

'Jail Red Cross fraudster for 5 years': Prosecutor

On the last day of the trial, prosecutor Alf Johansson recommended that the accused be held in custody while he awaits sentencing.

“I am of the opinion that he should be kept in custody in light of my plea for a long prison sentence and the fact that he does not have an income. With this in mind, there is a risk he could flee,” Johansson told news agency TT.

Af Donner’s lawyer Leif Silbersky, called on the court to display leniency when considering an appropriate punishment for his client.

“There is a long list of mitigating circumstances. He has confessed to his crimes, he wants to do the right thing, and he has shown remorse and contriteness.”

Silbersky said he considered it absurd that the prosecutor had called for af Donner to be immediately placed in custody.

Af Donner was tried with two alleged accomplices, who denied many of the charges against them. Johansson has recommended jail terms for the men of 18 and 30 months respectively.

The former Red Cross communications director faced charges in the week-long trial of aggravated fraud and aggravated bribery and his accomplices are charged with aggravated bribery, aggravated accounting fraud and aggravated fiscal fraud. Af Donner confessed to fraud but denied the bribery charge.

The Red Cross has said that the fraud amounted to 7.7 million kronor ($1.1 million). The suspects were 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, was accused of making up fake invoices with the help of his unidentified accomplices, who worked for suppliers.

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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.

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