Helsinki (18.09.2003 - Eeva Simola) Finnish engine manufacturer Wartsila Ltd is
caught up in Sweden's largest ever bribery prosecution, local dailies report.
According to the public prosecutor, "it is clear that Wartsila offered bribes to
secure orders". Wartsila admits the payments but says these were for consulting
services. Finland's public prosecutor is now considering the case.
The Swedish shipping line Rederi AB Gotland operates ferries between Gotland
island and mainland Sweden. This company recently commissioned two superfast
ferries from a Chinese shipyard. Wartsila supplied a total of eight main engines
and six auxiliary engines for these vessels, together with propellers for one of
them. The orders totalled EUR 25-30 million. The M/S Visby began operating this
Wartsila concluded two brokerage agreements with Euro Marine Ltd. This
company was represented and partly owned by the main suspect in the corruption
case, Bo Pettersson, who served as Technical Director at the shipping company.
Wartsila paid some EUR 1.1 million in two instalments in 2000 and 2001 to
Pettersson's private Swiss bank account.
Prosecutor Christer Krantz works at the financial crimes unit in Stockholm.
Interviewed by telephone on Monday 15 September, he indicated that he has reason
to believe that Wartsila bribed Pettersson. The main suspect had confessed to
receiving bribes from Wartsila and Rolls Royce. According to Krantz, this
confession also made clear that Wartsila knew what they were paying and to whom.
According to the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, Pettersson told the court
that after signing the agreements, he called the docks and arranged
subcontractors. He also made it clear that he had guaranteed the orders,
requested payment for them and secured this payment.
Wartsila has admitted paying the money. However, speaking to Finnish TV2, the
company lawyer commented that Wartsila was unaware of the ownership of Euro
Marine and it made the agreed payment in good faith, trusting the shipping
company and its long standing director. Wartsila has also explained that the
payment to Euro Marine was for "consulting" or "marketing", or for Pettersson to
find them "good business".
Calling from custody, Pettersson and a Wartsila representative agreed that
the latter would tell the court of mistaking Euro Marine Ltd and Rederi AB
Gotland for one and the same company, TV2 reported.
On the morning of Monday 15 September, before the verdict was due in the
case, Pettersson was found dead in his cell. The cause of death was later
confirmed as suicide. The case was due to close on Friday 19 September with
respect to the other three suspects, one from the same shipping company and two
from Rolls Royce.
Under Swedish law, Wartsila or its representative cannot be prosecuted in
Sweden. According to TV2, the Finnish public prosecutor is considering the case
as a serious matter.
A tax inspection last spring aroused suspicions of corruption. According to
prosecutor Krantz, Pettersson even confessed to a further EUR 0.6 million that
was not included in the charges, Svenska Dagbladet reported on Friday 12
September. This sum has been said to originate in major German companies,
An even larger corruption case was the Bofors scandal in the 1980s. This
involved arms deals with India worth some USD 2.1 billion and USD 250 million in
bribes. Only USD 40 million of this sum was traced to its destination. No
charges were ever brought in this case.