Swedish Bribe Case Widens to Include Former Finance Minister

  • Billionaire investor Lundberg suspected of having made bribes
  • Borg, Lundberg both say they have done nothing wrong

Former Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg and Fredrik Lundberg, a billionaire and one of the country’s most powerful investors, are suspected of bribery that’s alleged to have taken place during hunting events.

In his capacity as chairman of papermaker Holmen AB, Lundberg was told by Sweden’s National Anti-Corruption Unit that he’s suspected of having given a bribe, according to a statement last night. The suspicion arose in connection with an ongoing preliminary investigation into hunting events arranged by Holmen.

Anders Borg

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Borg, who served as Sweden’s finance minister between 2006 and 2014 and became an adviser to Citigroup in 2015, is suspected of taking a bribe, prosecutor Alf Johansson said by phone on Friday. Both Borg and Lundberg deny the allegations.

In an e-mail to Bloomberg, Borg said he “followed a strict line and paid myself for events,” during his time in government. “The investigation concerns an event after the election in 2014, when I had left the government. I am convinced that I have handled this correctly.”

Johansson, the prosecutor, said the case relates to potential bribes taken in the past five years “in the form of representation” that may have been “a bit too excessive.”

The investigation could prove particularly awkward for Lundberg, who has consolidated his power over one of Sweden’s biggest investment companies, Industrivarden AB, in a move that also saw him extend his reach into firms including Svenska Handelsbanken AB. That followed the departure of a former Industrivarden chairman and CEO in 2015 following allegations of corporate jet misuse, among other excesses.

The bribery case is the latest legal scandal to hit Sweden, where Fingerprint Cards AB board member Lars Soderfjell and former Chief Executive Officer Johan Carlstrom were taken into custody by police on Monday amid an investigation into alleged insider crimes. The two were subsequently released. Hexagon AB CEO Ola Rollen spent several days in a Norwegian jail late last year as part of a continuing insider trading probe.

The hunting event being investigated is an example of “a decades-long tradition and provides an opportunity to meet with Holmen’s employees as well as with external participants,” Lundberg said in a statement.

The billionaire said he will “respect the work of the prosecutors and assist them with the information they wish to have.” But he added he is “convinced that both Holmen and I have managed everything correctly and that no violations have occurred.”

Lundberg is one of the key investors dominating Sweden’s corporate landscape. He controls the Lundberg family’s holding company, L E Lundbergforetagen AB, which had 23 percent of the voting rights in Industrivarden and 16 percent of its share capital as of September last year.

As Industrivarden’s chairman and biggest shareholder, Lundberg exerts influence over large swathes of Swedish business, including stakes in networks-equipment maker Ericsson AB, truckmaker Volvo AB and steelmaker SSAB through Industrivarden’s shareholdings.

Lundbergforetagen also holds stakes in companies including Holmen, Indutrade AB, Husqvarna AB and Hufvudstaden AB.

Holmen shares fell as much as 3 percent in Stockholm on Friday and were little changed as of 12:10 p.m. local time. Lundbergforetagen and Industrivarden also declined.

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