Housing chief denies taking any bribes
TT/The Local/vt · 18 Jan 2011, 14:45
Published: 18 Jan 2011 14:45 GMT+01:00
- First arrest made in Gothenburg bribe probe (07 Sep 10)
- Auditors critical after Gothenburg review (10 May 10)
- Gothenburg opens probe into bribery claims (04 May 10)
The scandal involves the Gothenburg municipal housing firm Familjebostäder and the city's sports and clubs division, as well as the relationship between construction magnate Stefan Allbäck and municipal officials.
The indictment on Tuesday concerns, Olle Lundgren, the former head of municipal housing company Poseidon, who allegedly received free bricks for his house from contractor Wienerberger.
"I have not done anything criminal," Lundgren said on Tuesday.
According to the indictment, Lundgren received nearly 24 tonnes of bricks from Wienerberger with an estimated market value of at least 85,000 kronor ($12,750).
Ollegren's own wife alerted authorities to the alleged bribe, and is scheduled to testify against her husband in the case.
Regional prosecutor Nils-Eric Schultz believes that his office has enough evidence for the case to proceed.
"I have information on how the bricks were invoiced with the brick company. I can see, just as the notifier wrote, that the bricks were not paid for. And it is also clear from the documentation of the brick company," he said.
"During questioning, a number of people at the company confirmed that the bricks were given for free to the accused," he added.
Schultz said that Lundgren's job as a top official with Poseidon boosted suspicions that the free bricks were offered by Wienerberger in the expectation that the company would receive favourable treatment in bidding for contracts from the municipal housing firm, the expressen newspaper reports.
Schultz chose to personally hand the charges in to the district court.
"Since I am in Gothenburg, it is the smoothest way," he said on Tuesday.
The former director has continued to deny the charges.
"I know what has been uncovered in the preliminary investigation and I know what I have done. Based on that and the discussions I have had with my attorney, we believe that I am innocent. I have not done anything wrong," he told news agency TT on Tuesday.
Schultz believes that Lundgren received bricks worth nearly 100,000 kronor for his home.
When asked if he had paid for the the bricks, Lundgren said, "I paid, but evidently, they think that I have paid too little."
Pressed about the actual amount, he answered, "It is evident from the preliminary investigation."
Lundgren's attorney Anders Munck said that his client denies all the criminal allegations against him and that he had no intention of taking advantage of any benefits.
According to Munck, Lundgren simply built a house and has received a number of bills, all of which he has paid in full.
"Now, eight years later, it appears that the brick supplier was not paid in full, but this is something my client had no knowledge of. When the criminal allegations were brought against him, he was convinced he had acted properly," he said.
When the preliminary investigation against him began in October, Lundgren decided to take a leave of absence from his current position as CEO of a new municipal corporation pending the outcome of the investigation and legal process.
Asked what will happened if he is convicted, Lundgren said, "I do not know. However, I assume that I will not be convicted. It is really a matter for the board. It is not me who decides that."
In terms of his daily activities, "I am not waiting around. I work at the company, where I help the acting CEO and work on other issues within the company. I have a lot to do."
There are presently 10 ongoing preliminary investigations into suspicions of the receipt of bribes within municipal companies and management in Gothenburg. The next indictment will take place in two to three weeks, according to Schultz.
He estimated that about a total of 30 people may be prosecuted.
The first receipt of bribes was uncovered in April 2010 by SVT's investigative news programme Uppdrag granskning and newspaper Göteborgs-Tidningen (GT).