Sweden appoints ‘anti-fraud general’ to counter abuse of coronavirus support packages

The Swedish government will appoint an investigator to help ensure that money intended to support businesses and individuals during the coronavirus crisis does not end up being misused or going to criminal networks.

Sweden appoints 'anti-fraud general' to counter abuse of coronavirus support packages
Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson announced the anti-fraud strategy on Thursday. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Justice and Migration Minister Morgan Johansson made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday morning, saying: “In a crisis situation, most people think about what they can do to help out. That's how most of us work, but not all. Others think about how they can grab as much as possible of public means. We mustn't be naive to this.” 

“Every tax dollar that ends up in the wrong pocket is a theft from the public. The money we spend must go to crisis management and must not fall into the pockets of criminal networks,” he said.

The role of the investigator, described as Johansson as Sweden's “anti-fraud general”, would be to look into how the support packages offered by the government are being used, and raise the alarm over any irregularities or suspicious actions.

This person will also be able to propose legislation to counter fraud.

The measures introduced by the government include a new system for short-term layoffs, state funding of sick pay for the second to 14th day of illness as well as a new fixed compensation for the first day of illness (which was previously unpaid), reductions of employer fees, increased unemployment insurance, and support for businesses that have needed to adapt their way of working. 

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New Covid-19 wave in Sweden ‘to peak at end of September’

Sweden's Public Health Agency has warned of a new autumn wave of Covid-19 which it expects to peak at the end of September.

New Covid-19 wave in Sweden 'to peak at end of September'

According to both of the two new scenarios published by the agency on Monday, infection rates are set to rise steadily over the next month, something the agency said was due to a falling immunity in the population and greater contact between people as they return to schools and workplaces after the summer. 

“It is difficult to say how high the peak will be, but it is unlikely that it will reach the same levels as in January and February,” the agency’s unit chief Sara Byfors said in a press release. “The most important thing is that people in risk groups and those who are 65 years old and above get vaccinated with a booster dose in the autumn to reduce the risk of serious illness and death.” 

Under Scenario 0, the amount of contact between people stays at current levels, leading to a peak in reported Covid-19 cases at around 5,000 a day. In Scenario 1, contact between people increases by about 10 percent from the middle of August, leading to a higher peak of about 7,000 reported cases a day. 

The agency said that employers should be prepared for many staff to be off sick simultaneously at points over the next month, but said in its release that it did not judge the situation to be sufficiently serious to require either it or the government to impose additional infection control measures. 

It was important, however, it said, that those managing health and elderly care continued to test those with symptoms and to track the chain of infections, that people go and get the booster doses when they are supposed to have under the vaccination programme, and that those who have symptoms of Covid-19 stay home.