Britain’s Thomas Cook, which owns the Nordic Ving group, has collapsed after last-minute negotiations aimed at saving the holiday company failed.
The Ving group is made up Ving, Spies, Tjäreborg and Globetrotter and all Ving group flights from the Nordic region have been cancelled until further notice. Some 17,000 Swedish holidaymakers will need to be brought home and Ving urges all those affected to access the Ving website for further information.
The British tour operator’s failure puts 22,000 jobs at risk worldwide.
DI has been reporting this week on the Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgälden) and that director general Hans Lindblad has been under fire for decisions in conflict with advice from the agency’s experts.
Last week, the Ministry of Finance summoned Hans Lindblad and the meeting has now taken place.
“The government takes the situation seriously and today I met the director of Riksgälden for more information about the situation that has arisen,” says Ulf Holm, state secretary for Finance Minister Per Bolund (Green) to DI.
As a result of DI’s reports, Riksgälden has taken two initiatives. Firstly, to bring forward an employee survey and secondly, to implement an external review of “leadership in various decision and preparatory processes”.
When asked by DI, Per Bolund’s press secretary Frida Färlin says, “The government still has confidence in the director general of Riksgälden.”
Departing head of the Financial Supervisory Authority (FI), Martin Noréus, did not submit a conflict of interest report to the watchdog, despite having negotiated a top job at Handelsbanken (SHB).
As head of the bank area, he has had responsibility for all investigations into banks, including two ongoing investigations into Handelsbanken. FI has not said whether it intends to investigate.
Financial Markets Minister Per Bolund (Green) did not seem concerned when speaking to DI: “It is in a way good that the banks build up a capacity when it comes to regulations and are able to fulfil all the requirements we set.” However, SvD reports that he says the situation is not completely without problem. “There need to be processes… Factors such as the risk of conflict of interest and possible financial gain need to be given attention.”
In a statement to the supervisory authorities in Sweden and Estonia Swedbank has confirmed that there have been – and are – failings with its anti-money laundering efforts. One of the reasons is that the bank has not had sufficient resources or skills to handle the risk of customers laundering money.
The bank has also decided to ease legal confidentiality that has prevented the Swedish Economic Crime Authority from questioning Erling Grimstad, who was brought in before the scandal to review suspected money laundering in the bank’s Baltic operations. The bank has so far not permitted Grimstad to be interviewed.
Thomas Langrot, the prosecutor pursuing the investigation, has welcomed the decision.
After ten years at the Riksbank and the Ministry of Finance, professor Karolina Ekholm has returned to Stockholm University. Few other Swedes have had such insight into the central decisions around the economy.
There has been a shift within economics since the financial crisis, the Euro crisis and then a long recovery with low inflation. Talking to Dagens Nyheter, she says the shift also concerns the division of responsibility between central banks and Finance Ministries. Governor of the Riksbank Stefan Ingves usually says the Riksbank still has muscles to stimulate the economy, if necessary. However, she is doubtful: “I don’t think the Riksbank can stimulate the Swedish economy much more.”
Expectations ought to turn to Finance Ministries where borrowing to stimulate is on the cards. “There is new research that shows fiscal policy is particularly potent during a recession, and ideas that say that it is particularly powerful when the repo rate is at its lower threshold.”
In a major review of Sweden’s national accounts between 1993 and 2019, Statistics Sweden on Friday adjusted the country’s GDP by one per cent. The amendments included household consumption, which has been higher than previously thought. However, exports were over-estimated and Swedes save significantly less than previously thought.
Torbjörn Isaksson, head of forecasting at Nordea, has reacted to how earlier figures have whitewashed how much money households have as a buffer.
“Between 2016 and 2018, Swedes consumed a great deal. They burned all their money. The buffer for dealing with unexpected outlay is thus not very large,” he says.
The new figures are mainly due to Statistics Sweden improving their data for the figures.
Dagens Industri (DI) wrote on Saturday that although GDP is higher than thought – by around SEK 16 billion – the rate of growth during the first half of the year is lower. The annual growth rate was adjusted from 1.4 per cent to 1.0 per cent.
Companies and consumers will feel the effects of a no deal Brexit immediately, warns EU Affairs Minister Hans Dahlgren. Legally, the UK will cease to be an EU member state, EU laws will cease to apply and the UK will be treated like a “third country”, with a range of tariffs and checks.
The minister gives a number of examples of industries that will be affected; drinks will increase by 20 per cent, transport equipment by 5 per cent and clothing by 12 per cent. There is also a risk that duties ranging from 18 to 43 per cent could be levied on agricultural goods.
He advises individuals travelling to the UK from the EU to review their insurance coverage, since the European Health Insurance Card will no longer be valid in the UK.
Swedbank has denied claims made by Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) on Tuesday evening that it has manipulated documents.
“This is an incomprehensible claim that damages Swedbank,” said the bank’s lawyer, Hans Strandberg, rallying against Swedish Economic Crime Authority (EBM) prosecutor Thomas Långrot.
On Tuesday, the agency published a letter from Thomas Långrot to Swedbank's chairman Göran Persson and acting CEO Anders Karlsson. According to SvD’s sources, the prosecutor is not convinced at this stage of the authenticity of the so-called Grimstad reports submitted to EBM and the Financial Supervisory Authority, FI.
When the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, EBM, raided Swedbank for a second time in April this year, it unearthed an internal report, dated 12 July 2018, into the bank’s exposure in the Baltics, related to Danske Bank.
EBM says the report was not included in the list of documents Swedbank handed over to the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) in connection with the money laundering scandal.
Chief prosecutor Thomas Langrot has told Dagens Industri that it is likely the bank tried to mislead the watchdog and raises the question as to whether the bank has other reports, which it has not handed over.
The FSA says it cannot comment an ongoing investigation.
Saab is one of a number of arms companies that are not undertaking adequate human rights due diligence which could prevent their products from being used in potential human rights violations and war crimes, says Amnesty International in a fresh report.
In 2018, Amnesty International contacted 22 arms companies and asked them to explain how they meet their responsibilities to respect human rights under internationally recognised standards. Eight of the companies replied, including Saab, which stated that it operated in accordance with the principles of Swedish exports.
Ulrika Sandberg, senior policy advisor at Amnesty International Sweden, believes arms companies can assume a greater responsibility in terms of risks linked to human rights. “It is one of the guiding UN principles for companies and human rights,” she comments.
We are a small, but qualified team of graduates in politics, economics, English and classics dedicated to providing quality news digests in English that offer readers a first-hand look at the most important topics covered by the Swedish press. Here you will find a selection of the articles that are published in our Swedish Press Review.