SWEDEN – Petter Odhnoff has given IPE an account of the events leading up to his decision to quit yesterday as chief investment officer of the SEK190.6bn (€20.5bn) AP2 fund.

The fund announced his departure yesterday due to alleged tax irregularities.

“I realised there was only one thing for me to do, and that was to resign,” said Odhnoff. “The alternative would probably have been that they would have fired me, so I would rather in that situation move first.

“And whether I think this is right or wrong, I must say I respect their view and I have no other comment on that,” he said during an interview with IPE.

Odnhoff has been caught up in the matter following an audit conducted by the Swedish tax authorities.

The allegations are linked to a number of transactions connected with an account in a foreign bank, as well as certain shareholdings, said an AP2 statement. The transactions had also not been declared for tax purposes.

According to Odhnoff, the tax probe goes back to the period between 1986 and 1992, when he worked in America as an equity broker for Oppenheimer & Company in New York.

He stated that these were personal savings he kept while he worked in the US, but that he did not bring them into Sweden until last year following an unrelated query from the Swedish tax authorities to an account connected to a Visa card.

“When I got the request, I made a decision that I should not only submit and show that account that held basically no information that was of interest to the tax authorities …. but I also submitted my accounts that held equities and the transactions that had been going on there in order to pay taxes.

“I wanted to clear my history with the tax authorities.”

Odhnoff said that he informed the then AP2 chief executive Lars Idermark of the situation.

“He encouraged me to pay my taxes and clear the history of my accounts. He did not do anything else at that point,” said Odhnoff.

However, new CEO Eva Halvarsson “had a different view on this”.

“They looked at it and said there is no possibility for us to accept this behaviour from our CIO,” said Odhnoff.

“I thought that since I had reported this and done everything I could when I realised this should be cleared, I was hoping this was something that could be forgiven.

“But when I realised this couldn’t be done, I decided I had no other alternative and had to resign.”

Odhnoff has no immediate plans for the future. However, he is hoping on doing something in the same industry after the summer.