Telia boss charged with not attending Abba musical

Do you plead not guilty? I do, I do, etc

The chief exec of pan-Scandy telco TeliaSonera has been charged with bribery, along with the company's Swedish boss, over a planned, but aborted, trip to Abba musical Mamma Mia.

The trip nearly took place in early 2005 but Swedish prosecutors only decided yesterday to charge the two.

Anders Ingel, CEO of TeliaSonera, and Marie Ehrling, boss of the Swedish business, invited 200 customers to see the musical in Stockholm. But the dinner and theatre invitation was cancelled when the telco heard an investigation had been launched.

TeliaSonera president Tom von Weymarn, presumably not an Abba fan, said in a statement: "Customer events of the nature described in this action are a normal occurrence in any market and with this in mind I am amazed that the Director of Public Prosecutions has not decided to terminate his preliminary investigation. The Board and I have full confidence in Anders Igel and Marie Ehrling."

The two accused issued a joint statement: "It is surprising that the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided to go for an indictment in relation to the activity in question, an event which never even took place. Customer events of the type we had planned, where the attendees are also informed about the latest products and services, are a normal occurrence in Swedish business life."

The statement also said that Swedish law was unclear on the issue so a judgement would help clarify what is, and is not allowed.

Sweden's chief prosecutor Christian van der Kwast is also investigating Swedish firms suspected of abusing the UN's oil for food programme in Iraq. He is also investigating fashion house H&M for paying journalists' expenses accrued travelling to a New York fashion show.

Read more from AP here or the whole statement from TeliaSonera here.®

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