Princess accused of taking honeymoon bribe
James Savage · 9 Aug 2010, 19:16
Published: 09 Aug 2010 19:16 GMT+02:00
Sweden's tabloids have reported that Bertil Hult, the founder of language course organizer EF, lent the couple his plane, yacht and house in Colorado for their honeymoon, which they spent in French Polynesia and in North America. The value of the gift has been estimated at several million kronor by tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet.
Now, prosecutors at the National Anti-Corruption Unit have received three complaints about the gift from members of the public. They claim it constitutes a bribe, as Victoria has attended events hosted by Hult’s companies and charities in an official capacity:
“Given that the couple, or at least the Crown Princess, thereby have a business relationship, it could be the case that the gifts constitute bribery,” read one of the complaints.
Chief prosecutor Gunnar Stetler said he would look at the evidence before deciding whether to open an investigation.
“The complaints claim that the present Bertil Hult gave to the Crown Princess and Prince Daniel was a bribe or an improper reward,” Stetler told The Local.
Stetler will now consider whether the gift could fall foul of Sweden’s bribery legislation:
“There are a number of questions that I will need to consider, such as whether she is a public official as defined by the law.”
Not every gift to a public official is classed as a bribe in Sweden, he said:
“Of course you can give gifts without it necessarily falling under bribery legislation,” he told The Local.
“You have to look at questions such as the kind of relationship the parties have with each other,” he said.
Peter Wolodarski, a columnist for Dagens Nyheter, questioned the couple’s acceptance of Hult’s hospitality in an article on Monday:
“Nobody would deny the bride and groom the pleasure of being able to get away after marrying. But it’s still remarkable the heir to Sweden’s throne allows a Swedish billionaire to pay for transport and lodgings during the honeymoon, when the same person through his training company EF could have a potential interest in receiving favours in return,” Wolodarski wrote.
Royal spokeswoman Ulrika Näsholm told Expressen that the honeymoon was a private trip:
“It was a wedding present from an old friend of the Royal Family,” she said.
Prosecutors will decide within two weeks whether to open a formal investigation into the gift.