Thai police nab Swedish fraud suspect politician

A politician suspected of defrauding taxpayers in central Sweden of millions of kronor has been arrested in Thailand after being on the run since last autumn.

Annétthe Zettergren, 58, served on the Värmland County Council, as well as on the board of a regional development body, and the local police board.

In addition, the Moderate Party politician ran a physical therapy clinic that investigators believe she used to send fraudulent invoices to the Värmland County Council, to the tune of 4.5 million kronor ($695,000).

The fraud suspicions surfaced last August following an investigation by the local Värmlands Folkblad newspaper, at which point Zettergren stepped down from the County Council.

A few weeks after being reported to police, she disappeared, but not before apparently withdrawing nearly 1 million kronor from her boyfriend’s bank account.

A warrant was issued for her arrest shortly thereafter.

Swedish media reports from the time suggested that she had taken refuge in Thailand in an attempt to avoid Swedish law enforcement. On Friday, she was arrested there by local police.

“Interpol has confirmed her arrest in Thailand, but did not give a specific location. We should have more information by the end of the day,” Värmland County police detective Anders Forsman told the TT news agency.

Swedish police now hope that Zettergren will be back in Sweden by the end of next week to face a remand hearing on suspicions of aggravated fraud.

According to the Aftonbladet newspaper, Zettergren likely overstated the number of patients at her clinic, allowing her to bill the health authorities in excess. About 200 patients have been interviewed so far in the police investigation.

Thai police have also arrested a 43-year-old relative of Zettergren, believed to have set up a bank account for her. The man is also suspected of overstaying his visa in Thailand.

TT/The Local/dl

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