Key members of the board of bankrupt carmaker Saab were arrested yesterday on suspicions of tax evasion. Former Saab General Counsel Kristina Geers, former CFO Karl-Gustav Lindstrom, and former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson spent the night in jail. After a serious grilling, the three were released today. At the same time, the offices of Spyker in Zeewolde, Netherlands, were searched by police at the request of Swedish authorities, Z24.NL reports.
According to Saab fanzine Saabsunited, the trio was booked on suspicions “of trying to seriously make accounting too complicated and difficult for the tax-authorities.” That alone does not justify an arrest. Later, it was reported that the matter was about paying people as independent consultants instead as employees. This is a popular strategy to minimize tax and social security payments in many countries. It usually starts a long discussion with the auditors, but no mass arrests, and no internationally coordinated raids. Someone seems to be fishing for more than confusing book entries.
Saab declared bankruptcy in late 2011. Their 2010 and 2011 books were audited, a normal procedure in most European countries after a company goes bust. During the bankruptcy, many suppliers were stiffed, however, the biggest loser was the Swedish government. It had guaranteed a $500 million loan by the European Investment Bank.