SWEDEN – Ola Ramstedt, the employee at the centre of the pensions taxation test case known as the Skandia case, is stepping down as chief executive of the company.

“Ola Ramstedt has announced that he will be leaving his position as chief executive of Skandia Liv, at his own request, with effect on October 1 2003,” parent Skandia said in a statement.

Executive vice president Bengt-Åke Fagerman will take over as acting chief executive.

The move follows an independent investigation which criticised transactions between the parent company and the life insurance arm.

Ramstedt was at the heart of a test case brought by life insurer Skandia against Swedish pension taxation rules at the European Court of Justice. The case became known as the Skandia case and is one of a series of pension taxation cases brought before the ECJ, including the Bachmann and Danner cases.

In June this year the ECJ rejected Sweden’s treatment of pension taxation in its final ruling in the case. Skandia and Ramstedt had taken on the Swedish government over the right for employers to claim tax deductions for premiums toward occupational pension plans sold by life assurance companies domiciled in another EU country.

“The Court of Justice rejected the arguments put forward by the Swedish government to justify their tax rules,” the court said in its ruling.

Announcing his decision to leave Skandia, Ramstedt said: "Skandia Life is currently working intensively on cleaning up matters surrounding criticized deals and decision-making routines. It is important for the policyholders' confidence that this work is done in a thorough and proper manner. As a result, I do not want any personal discussions about me, which may be related to by previous position in the Skandia group, to burden this work in any way.”

Skandia Life chairman Lars Eric Ericsson said: “I would like to express our appreciation that he has performed his duties as CEO of Skandia Life in a meritorious manner."

Last week senior executive vice president Ulf Spang said he would be leaving Skandia.