Minister faces possible insider trading probe

Minister faces possible insider trading probe
Migration Minister Tobias Billström has been told "put all his cards on the table" amid accusations he bought shares in a troubled mining firm using inside information, allegations the minister denied.

The Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy snapped up 30,000 shares in Northland Resources last February. He made the purchase just days after the cabinet office was told the ailing mining company was due to get a bailout.

Billström denies the accusations but now political rivals are calling for further investigations into the matter.

“It’s time for Billström to put all his cards on the table. It’s a serious situation where a minister receives information about a bailout and a five days later another minister buys shares in the company. It is clear that it raises many questions,” said Mikael Damberg, parliamentary group leader of the Social Democrats in parliament.

Billström has admitted that “it might look strange” but denies all wrongdoing. His colleague Peter Norman, Minister for Financial Markets, got the information about the bailout and said he’s not sure if Billström knew of the rescue package also.

“This was handled by my staff and who they talked to I can’t be sure,” Norman told TV4 news.

Finance Minister Anders Borg was asked about the issue by reporters but declined to get into the specifics.

“It’s up to him to answer these questions. It’s good to have ministers involved in Swedish industry but they must be careful and should only do so based on their role.”

Half of the government’s 24 ministers have shares in companies.

The Swedish financial supervisory board (Finansinspektionen) told the TT news agency they would not comment on individual cases but said Billström’s business “is a typical example of what the financial supervisory board looks at.”

Billström told TV4 news that he had no more information than the market at large when he made the purchase and that his shares are currently managed by a trustee.

His shares have not turned out to be a sound investment with the stock continuing to fall and losing 90 percent of its value in the last six months.

The Local/pr

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