Swedish Social Democratic members of Parliament have attacked what they claim is lost time from government inertia, concerning approval of investment by Russian businessman, Vladimir Antonov in Saab.
The Russian has been mired in controversy both in Sweden and elsewhere, but his deep interest in Saab appears to have been eventually thwarted by the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Antonov consistently struggled to see his bid to underwrite EUR30m (US$40m) in Saab be accepted by the EIB, despite being cleared by the Swedish National Debt Office (SNDO).
The Luxembourg bank provided a substantial loan of EUR400m to Saab – money it subsequently recovered from the Swedish government whose guarantee kicked in once the automaker entered bankruptcy – but previously noted: “It had been the policy of the EIB to not accept Mr Antonov taking part in the ownership structure of Saab.”
The issue has so concerned one Swedish Social Democratic opposition Member of Parliament, Jorgen Hellman, he has asked for a hearing of the country’s Constitutional Committee to review the government’s handling of Antonov’s involvement.
“Saab worked with Antonov and this financial solution [for] nine months to a year,” Hellman, who is MP for Saab’s nearby constituency of Vastra Gotaland North, told just-auto from Sweden. “They lost very expensive time – time is money.
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“The 9-12 months of lost time was very important – we are not interested in Antonov or not Antonov. The government should have taken action – they could have done much more.”
The Antonov issue is clouded in mystery as the Russian was approved by the government’s National Debt Office but subsequently came up against the apparent intransigence of the EIB to approve his involvement.
“This government is not interested in the politics of industry,” said Hellman. “They are only interested in consumption. “The government is not really doing enough in the long run.”
The MP expressed great concern Saab’s home town of Trollhattan was starting to experience severe unemployment following its bankruptcy, that saw nearly 4,000 direct staff and possibly many more in the supply chain, made redundant.
“We have heard it is 20% unemployment and it is going to rise,” he said. “When young people ended school, many of them would go to Saab, but no more.”
Hellman said MPs attended the Constitutional Committee perhaps only once or twice during their time in the life of a Swedish Parliament – “it is not something we do every year,” he noted.
A spokeswoman for the Constitutional Court in Stockholm said a total of 17 MPs from Sweden’s eight political parties would be present at the hearing, which is expected to last until 15 June.