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CRIME

Swedish tech consultant jailed for spying for Russia

A Swedish tech consultant has been handed a three-year jail sentence for selling information about truckmaker Scania to Russia.

Swedish tech consultant jailed for spying for Russia
The man was found guilty of selling sensitive information about truckmaker Scania to Russia. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

Prosecutors said the 47-year-old man’s actions could have compromised Sweden’s national security.

It was the first espionage trial in the country in 18 years, according to broadcaster SVT.

The man was arrested in February 2019 while dining at a restaurant in central Stockholm with a Russian diplomat suspected of being an intelligence officer.

The diplomat was briefly detained but released because of his diplomatic immunity.

At the time of his arrest, the consultant had just received 27,800 kronor ($3,200, 2,700 euros) for passing information to Moscow, prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said in February.

The court found him guilty of espionage, saying he had copied “secret information” from Scania, which he had transferred to USB-drives and handed to a Russian embassy worker.

In a statement, it added that he had been “fully aware that the information he had delivered would benefit Russia”.

The information concerned “manufacturing, such as source codes and construction of products in the automotive sector”, court documents showed.

The man was also found to have delivered information from carmaker Volvo but he was cleared of spying charges in this particular case because the information could not be proved to have “hurt Sweden’s security”.

Much of the trial was held behind closed doors because it dealt with issues including “Sweden’s relation to foreign powers, defence abilities,  intelligence work” and corporate secrets, the court said.

In its latest annual report published in 2020, Sweden’s intelligence agency said Russia, along with China, posed the biggest intelligence threat to the Scandinavian country.

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CRIME

Swedish court clears former Swedbank CEO of fraud charges

Birgitte Bonnesen, a former CEO of Swedish bank Swedbank, has been acquitted of charges of fraud and sharing insider information.

Swedish court clears former Swedbank CEO of fraud charges

The ruling from the Stockholm District Court comes four years after the eruption of a money laundering scandal implicating the bank.

In 2019, Swedish public service broadcaster SVT alleged that at least 40 billion kronor (equivalent at the time to $4.4 billion) of suspicious and high-risk transactions had been channelled to Baltic countries, notably Estonia, from Swedbank accounts.

The revelations, which saw the bank’s share price crumble, rendered Bonnesen’s position untenable and she was fired.

Sweden’s financial regulator the following year fined the bank some 360 million euros and warned it to follow anti-money laundering laws.

Prosecutors later charged Bonnesen, accusing her of “intentionally or by aggravated negligence” providing false or misleading information about the steps the bank had taken to prevent and detect suspected money laundering.

Bonnesen, who risked two years in prison, denied all of the charges against her.

The court said that while some of the statements the former CEO made to media outlets had been “unclear and incomplete”, they did not amount to fraud.

“For criminal liability, it is not enough for someone to make a false statement or omit key information,” judge Malou Lindblom said, adding that any statement needed to be sufficient to influence recipients “in a certain direction”.

Bonnesen was also cleared of charges of revealing insider information by informing the bank’s main owners that the investigative documentary was coming.

The court said the former CEO had only revealed what she believed the documentary would cover, which was deemed too “imprecise” to be considered insider information.

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