Inviting public officials to event is very sensitive from a anti-corruption perspective. This is again illustrated by a recent ruling from the Court of Appeal, which may be of interest to those of you who work with anti-corruption compliance.
Last Friday, the Svea Court of Appeal overturned a verdict by the Stockholm District Court and ruled that , in December 2017 bribery had taken place in a case where certain organisations in the music industry invited, among other guests, politicians and representatives of authorities (such as Statens Kulturråd and Statens Musikråd) to their annual Christmas and Spring parties respectively. Whereas the District Court had concluded that participating in the dinner parties fulfilled a useful professional purpose for the invited public officials, the Court of Appeal took a different stand.
In support of its conclusion, the Court of Appeal noted in particular that:
• the authorities invited were allocating state funding which was to be regarded as exercise of public authority;
• the defendants’ positions of office at the authorities required high integrity which implied that there was very little scope for them to accept any benefits; and
• the value of attending the parties exceeded normal representation and attending the parties could not be considered a natural part of the recipients’ jobs.
Even though the Court of Appeal established that there were no indications that the benefits had actually led to funds being incorrectly allocated, the Court considered the benefits improper and that bribery had taken place. The charged persons were sentenced to pay fines and the organisations were sentenced to pay corporate fines. (Svea Court of Appeal’s judgment on 5 October in Case B 377-18). Two of the five judges dissented and agreed with the Stockholm District Court that the benefits were not improper and hence that no bribery had taken place. The judgment of the Svea Court of Appeal may be appealed to The Supreme Court.