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Red Cross chief loses fraud appeal

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Red Cross chief loses fraud appeal
11:22 CEST+02:00
Johan af Donner, the former Swedish Red Cross communications chief sentenced to five years in prison for swindling the organisation out of millions of kronor, has lost an appeal against his conviction.

The Svea Court of Appeal also convicted the disgraced af Donner to aggravated fraud, a charge on which he was freed by the district court.

The court however ruled that the five year sentence imposed on af Donner was sufficient for the crimes committed, taking into account the "mitigating circumstances" of losing his job and the intense media interest in his case.

Stockholm District Court in May 2010 found Johan af Donner guilty of aggravated fraud against the Red Cross and the Swedish Cancer Society. He was also convicted for breach of trust and for being an accessory to aggravated accounting fraud.

He was sentenced to five years imprisonment and promptly lodged an appeal.

Af Donner, who pleaded guilty to all charges, used the money he siphoned off from the charities to fund a life of luxury. He viewed his monthly salary of 60,000 kronor ($7,500) as too low, and used the money he stole to pay for costs such as his son's boarding school education.

As fundraising chief at the cancer society in the early 2000s, and as fundraising and communications chief at the Red Cross between 2004 and 2009, af Donner was considered a talented and trustworthy leader by colleagues.

The fraud was discovered after staff at the Red Cross's Stockholm headquarters raised concerns about a large number of strange invoices. It emerged that af Donner had approved payments to companies that did not exist and for services that had never been performed.

Two suppliers of consultancy and printing services to the Red Cross were tried alongside af Donner, and were jailed for eighteen months and two years and six months respectively.

The Red Cross and the Swedish Cancer Society are now attempting to recover money from af Donner.

The court awarded damages against af Donner equivalent to the amount he stole from the charities.

The Red Cross is claiming 5.2 million kronor and the Cancer Society is looking to recover 2.5 million kronor. Prosecutors have so far managed to secure around 6 million kronor worth of his assets.

The court also banned af Donner from holding senior positions in a Swedish company for seven years. The other two men received five-year bans.

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