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Swedish politician admits crime in bodyguard mortgage fiasco

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Swedish politician admits crime in bodyguard mortgage fiasco
Former national coordinator against violent extremism Mona Sahlin. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
08:03 CET+01:00
Sweden's former national coordinator against violent extremism has admitted that she committed a crime by writing an inaccurate certificate for her bodyguard which exaggerated his salary and helped him secure a mortgage.

Mona Sahlin stepped down last year following a scandal sparked by media reports she had claimed her bodyguard earned more than he did so he would be granted a mortgage and could buy an apartment.

"She is willing to accept a fine," Sahlin's lawyer Claes Borgström told news agency TT on Monday.

The lawyer said Sahlin's intention was never to use misleading information to gain an advantage either for herself or someone else, or to line her pockets.

"When she wrote these certificates her starting point was that this would end up being his salary, but afterwards that didn't happen, and above all it wasn't the case when she wrote the certificates. As such the legal assessment is that there has been a misrepresentation," Borgström noted.

He added that it is positive for Sahlin that the legal process is now over as she had suffered disproportionately during it.

In May last year, Swedish tabloid Expressen revealed that Sahlin had claimed her former bodyguard earned 120,000 kronor ($13,394) per month, a certificate for which was used when he bought a home. His actual income was 43,000 kronor ($4799) per month, however.

A preliminary investigation into false certification was then launched. The bodyguard has now admitted to using false documents, meaning he could avoid a trial, according to Expressen.

"He is prepared to accept his responsibility and will accept a fine, provided the prosecutor decides that," the bodyguard's lawyer Johan Eriksson told Expressen.

Sahlin originally claimed that she had made a mistake when writing what salary the employee received from the state, and that she had herself provided him with 60,000 kronor ($6697) a month for "security".

On May 4th she resigned from her position as Sweden's national coordinator against violent extremism.

Political scientist Stig-Björn Ljunggren thinks that Sahlin's recognition she wrote a false certificate will likely spell the end for her in state work.

"It looks very bad if you issue false certificates as a representative of the state, so for her and for the image of the state this is really serious," he told TT.

When the story about Sahlin's certificate broke it was also revealed that she owed a significant debt to Sweden's state bailiff, Kronofogdemyndigheten, in unpaid taxes. She subsequently paid off the 215,000 kronor ($24,000) debt.

Expressen now claims that she has once more failed to pay all of the taxes she owes, to a total of 361,782 kronor ($40,387), which is again in the hands of Kronofogdemyndigheten.

The authority told the newspaper that Sahlin had contacted them on three occasions in January and explained that she needs more time to pay.

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