Former union treasurer suspected of bribery

The trade-union treasurer who was fired following a scandal involving foreign affairs minister Margot Wallström has been suspected of bribery, Swedish media report.

Anders Bergström, formerly the treasurer of Kommunal – Sweden’s largest trade union, with more than 500,000 members – allegedly paid out bribes in 2014-2015, tabloid Expressen reports, citing new documents filed in the Stockholm district court. The Swedish Prosecution Authority’s national corruption unit has apparently filed a request for a public prosecutor.

Bergström has denied the allegations, Swedish Radio News reports. His lawyer, Leif Gustafsson, said: "He has never intended to bribe anyone and he asserts that he has never bribed anyone."

Bergström was forced to leave Kommunal in January following an exposé in tabloid Aftonbladet which revealed that the union had, on multiple occasions, rented out its restaurant Metropol Palais in central Stockholm for champagne parties and nude cabarets featuring the porn star Puma Swede.

Moreover, it transpired that Kommunal board members had used a union-owned hotel without paying and had spent large amounts of union money on alcohol and entertainment.

The day after the Aftonbladet story was published, the union’s third vice chairman and treasurer, Anders Bergström, resigned while chairwoman Annelie Nordström said she would stay on at least until Kommunal’s May congress.

In January, it was revealed that Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström had rented an apartment owned by Kommunal during her time in office. According to the Swedish Anti-Corruption Institute the apartment could count as an undue benefit, and therefore as a corruption crime. Bergström was in charge of renting out the apartment and, as of Thursday afternoon, it was unclear whether the bribery suspicion is linked to Wallström’s apartment.

Chief prosecutor Alf Johansson told news agency TT that, in principle, it is possible for just one person in a bribery case to have committed a crime. In other words, a person can be prosecuted for offering bribes without anyone being prosecuted for accepting bribes and vice versa.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs did not want to say whether or not Wallström is suspected of bribery. “We have no comment for the duration of the preliminary investigation,” Wallström’s press secretary Erik Wirkensjö told TT.

Kommunal’s chairwoman Annelie Nordström did not want to comment either and did not want to say whether or not she is suspected of any crimes.