Olofsson in the dark over Vattenfall pay off

Olofsson in the dark over Vattenfall pay off
The Swedish government has denied that it, or enterprise minister Maud Olofsson, had any knowledge of the golden parachute payment that led to the sacking of Vattenfall chair Lars Westerberg.

“Olofsson was never informed about the agreement from Westerberg,” press secretary Erik Bratthall said.

Maud Oloffsson was the minister responsible for state-owned energy giant Vattenfall at the time of the secret agreement to pay 12 million kronor ($1.9 million) to the outgoing CEO Lars G Josefsson.

“Of course he should have informed the government, it is the chairperson’s responsibility. But we knew nothing about the golden parachute,” Bratthall said.

Bratthall confirmed to news agency TT that the “government official” identified in the media as to have had the responsibility of informing the government, was not even employed at the Government Offices (Regeringskansliet) when the compensation committee was first reported to have addressed the parachute, on April 12th 2010.

“The person left the Government Offices at the turn of 2009/2010,” he said of Viktoria Aastrup, who represented the government on the energy giant’s board.

Aastrup has furthermore denied all knowledge of the agreement, which ran contrary to government guidelines, underlining that she had left the board and the company’s remuneration committee prior to the decision to approve Josefsson’s pay off.

Aastrup has explained that while serving on the board, she followed the government’s directive on how the pay should be formed – the only pay off that Josefsson should have received was salary and pension.

“I was very clear on that. And all that happened April 12th 2010 was that Westerberg, who was at the compensation committee meeting, suggested to us that Lars G. Josefsson felt that he had been fired by the government.”

“The agreement on his remuneration was first taken on May 10th, and the board took a decision on May 25th. I left the Board on April 29th,” she said underlining that she was then serving on the board as a private person, and argued that this would anyway have precluded her from informing the government.

Sweden’s National Anti-Corruption Unit (Riksenheten mot korruption) announced on Thursday that it is to investigate whether to open a case against the Vattenfall board.

The Swedish government last week fired Vattenfall chairperson Lars Westerberg as a result of the erroneous pensions payment to the former CEO.

A secret agreement to pay Lars G Josefsson a year of his two year notice period in the form of a regular pensions payment was brokered by Westerberg and HR head Lars Gejrot, both of whom have been fired.

The agreement was discovered by the firm’s accountants in the beginning of the year and has been considered to be in breach of government guidelines on remuneration.

Lars Westerberg has explained his decision by claiming that he did not have all the relevant information. Although he has been unwilling to claim that anyone deliberately misled him.

The former CEO has meanwhile declared that he is prepared to pay back the remuneration and is due to do so by the end of March.

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