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Malmö Pride sacks festival head over cash crisis

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Malmö Pride sacks festival head over cash crisis
Filip Filipek at Malmö Pride in 2017. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
14:32 CET+01:00
Malmö Pride has sacked festival head Filip Filipek after discovering that it was close to bankruptcy, putting the high-profile 2021 World Pride celebrations at risk.
Anders Söderberg, who was last month voted in as interim chairman following a string of resignations, said Malmö's city government had lost faith in Filipek.  
 
"Filip does not have the capacity to do this," Söderberg told The Local. "He is not good enough. He is not clever enough to do this. We can't really trust him as festival director, so the board decided to fire him." 
 
He said that as a result of Filipek's mismanagement, Malmö Pride might go into bankruptcy, forcing the city to give up on co-hosting World Pride 2021 with Copenhagen. 
 
"If the association is put into bankruptcy, there will be no association and we will miss the train for the World Pride 2021, and of course Malmö's municipality doesn't want that," he said. 
 
Söderberg said that when the interim board was elected on October 31st, Filipek had failed to either inform them of the organisation's dire financial situation or that Malmö's municipality had demanded that it submit three reports before it paid out a 500,000 kroner grant. 
 
"He had not done his work correctly. He had not provided Malmö municipality the reports that he should have. He submitted a report to our first board meeting, but these reports didn't say anything about the financial situation, or the these lacking reports to Malmö municipality. 
 
Before Filipek was formally sacked, the board had to meet his trade union, which challenged the decision to sack him for incompetence, arguing that he should be paid 200,000 kronor, representing his salary for November, two further months pay and pay in lieu of vacation. 
 
"We are insolvent," he told the Sydvenskan newspaper. "If Unionen [a union] pushes this any further then we will go bankrupt. And if we go bankrupt then World Pride looks a long way away." 
 
According to Söderberg, Malmö Pride lacked sufficient funds to pay Filipek's salary in November, leaving Unionen to threaten to pass it to Sweden's national debt collection agency Unionen. 
 
Contacted by Sydsvenskan, Filipek accused Malmö municipality of deliberately having pushed the organization into economic difficulties by withholding 500,000 kronor, thereby creating a reason to get rid of him. 
 
"Why didn't they try and solve the situation with me, rather than breaking off all communication and leaving a notification of termination," he told the newspaper. 
 
"I never got any chance to explain myself or to put anything to rights," he added. "For me it's obvious that they wanted to make a scapegoat out of me to save their own images." 
 
 
Five members of Malmö Pride resigned in September in protest at Filipek's chairmanship of the organization. 
 
They were particularly incensed at his decision to pay himself a one percent commission on all funds raised the for the 2021 festival preparations. 
 
As he was both chairman and festival director, he was effectively serving as employer and employee, something other board members saw as a conflict of interest.
 
The scandal led Malmö Municipality to hold back the 500,000 kronor grant it had agreed to give to help the organization prepare for the 2021 Pride Celebrations. 
 
Söderberg, who works as a bureaucrat for Lund municipality, said the unorthodox arrangement had been more a reflection of Filipek's ignorance of how to run an association in Sweden, 
 
"I don't think there is any intentional corruption. He's just bad at doing things," he said.  "And that's really sad, because he's very good at doing other things. He is probably very skilled in some areas, perhaps in the PR area.
 
"He started it and built it all up, but he built a castle in the air. He didn't do the documentation, he didn't put up the routines. He signed his own employment paper. In Sweden you should know that it's not allowed to sign your own employment paper." 
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