Sweden’s Pensions Agency (Pensionsmyndigheten) is fighting back in its long-running legal case against the former premium pension provider Allra after a judge ruled against the authority at the end of January.
Allra was delisted from the Pensions Agency’s funds marketplace platform (fondtorget) in March 2017 for having breached its obligations under the cooperation agreement.
The platform lists privately-run funds Swedes can choose from within the defined contribution (DC) premium pension system.
Allra’s funds were subsequently taken over by the Bank of Åland.
On 31 January, the Stockholm District Court threw out a criminal case heard last autumn, in which the Pensions Agency had assisted the prosecution of four people with connections to Allra – and made a single claim for damages of about SEK170m (€16m).
The claim was based on the agency’s view that savers had lost money because the Allra funds paid for overpriced securities transactions back in 2012.
In releasing all defendants at the end of last month, the district court also ordered the Pensions Agency to pay just over SEK28m in legal costs.
But the agency announced last week it had decided to appeal against ruling.
Lena Aronsson, chief legal officer at the agency, said: “Our focus is on pension savers getting back the money they lost.”
She said the Pensions Agency believed the transactions tried in the case were done for the benefit of the Allra representatives and not in the interest of the pension savers.
“We make a different assessment from the district court, including how the evidence should be valued and how the legal issues should be assessed,” she said, adding that these were some of the reasons why the agency wanted the High Court to try the case.
The premium pension system forms part of Sweden’s first-pillar state pension, alongside the main component – the income pension.
A system of mandatory individual accounts introduced 20 years ago to add an element of choice to the state pension, the premium pension is now being comprehensively reformed.
The overhaul was triggered primarily by consumer protection concerns as scandals over mismanagement and mis-selling dogged the funds marketplace.
In the last few years, 21 funds have been deregistered from the platform because of breaches of the agreement between fund managers and the Pensions Agency.
Besides the Allra affair, another high-profile banishment case has involved Malta-registered Falcon Fonds. The firm’s three funds were taken off the platform in 2016 after the Pensions Agency noticed large-scale investments in unusual securities, which later turned out to incur huge losses.
IPE was not able to contact Allra by deadline to get a response to the appeal decision.