SHARE
COPY LINK

CORRUPTION

Swedish agency partied for millions: report

Since January 2010 the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) has spent some 7.5 million kronor ($1.1 million) on internal entertainment such as luxury dinners and ski trips, equating to 25,000 kronor per employee.

Swedish agency partied for millions: report
Photo: Abaransk/Flickr

The annual staff day alone, which was hosted by the prestigious Grand Hotel in Stockholm in May, ran up a bill in excess of one million kronor, according to a report in the Dagens Nyheter daily.

The report included details of stays at castles and mansion, fine dining, wine and chocolate tasting, spa visits and excursions to islands and ski resorts.

In addition, a further 9 million was spent on internal training and other conferences.

The restaurant bill alone at the Grand Hotel indicated that dinner cost 428,225 kronor, equating to 1,476 kronor per head – more than double that stipulated in the agency’s own guidelines.

In a similar event last year, the tax-payer funded agency hired the Cirkus arena in Stockholm and the dinner at nearby Hasselbacken ran to 200,000 kronor.

In 2010 the China Theatre was the venue and dinner was taken at the Sheraton.

The agency’ director-general Christina Calm conceded that some of the costs incurred were unacceptable but mounted a defence of others.

“The Grand Hotel was actually the cheapest option,” she told Dagens Nyheter.

Last year the agency was given an extra six million kronor to be able to cover its costs, although this year the government rejected a new request. The decision means that the agency will be forced to save 10 million kronor.

TT/The Local/pvs

twitter.com/thelocalsweden

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

BUSINESS

Sweden slips in global corruption rankings

Sweden has dropped from third to fourth in an annual ranking comparing the levels of perceived corruption around the world.

Sweden slips in global corruption rankings
How corrupt is Sweden? Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Its Scandinavian neighbour Denmark shared first place with New Zealand in this year's Corruption Perception Index (CPI), released by anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International on Wednesday and ranking how corrupted countries were seen to be in 2016.

Both Denmark and New Zealand were given a score of 90 on the 0 to 100 scale (highly corrupt to very clean), followed closely by Finland and Sweden, which scored 89 and 88 respectively.

While still in the top-five of 176 countries, Sweden found itself pushed down one notch from last year and the group's Sweden office warned that this was no time to be complacent.

“Sweden's good performance in the 2016 index does not mean that we are spared from corruption in the public sector,” Ulla Andrén, chairwoman of Transparency International Sweden, said in a statement.

“Over the past year we have unfortunately seen how core values have wavered considerably. Leading figures have turned out to lack an ethical compass and corrupt behaviour has damaged trust in various public institutions.”

READ ALSO: Why Denmark is world's least corrupt country

Major Swedish institutions were rocked by scandals last year, including claims of cronyism and cover-ups at the state auditor Riksrevisionen and tax agency Skatteverket. Some of the country's largest businesses, such as Telia and Ericsson, have also faced allegations of illicit payouts.

“We believe that everything colloquially referred to as cronyism is corruption,” Lotta Rydström, executive secretary of Transparency International Sweden, told The Local.

“Transparency International's definition of corruption is wider than just bribes: 'Corruption is abuse of entrusted power for personal gain', which includes nepotism, buddy contracts and so on.”

“I would probably also say that several bribe-related incidents in the business world have shown that Sweden is not as spared (from corruption) as many think,” she said.

Rydström warned that the corruption index does not cover local and regional councils, where much of the political decisions are made in Sweden. Municipalities and county councils make up around 70 percent of public administration in the country.

“A high rating does not mean that we can beat our chest and say we are still almost the best student in the classroom. Good can get better and there is plenty to work on. Public procurement, municipal auditing and whistleblower protection are some of the issues we are working on.”

As a whole, Transparency International said that no nation in the world – Sweden included – is doing enough to fight corruption.

“There are no drastic changes in Europe and Central Asia in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, with only a few exceptions. However, this does not mean that the region is immune from corruption. The stagnation does not indicate that the fight against corruption has improved, but quite the opposite,” it wrote in the report.