Sweden’s politicians protect their independent auditors (and what’s the quid pro quo?)

Oh dear!

Dagens Nyheter exposed examples of “crony corruption” within the Swedish National Audit Office last month The Audit Office which is supposed to be an independent audit body monitoring government and government processes is answerable only to the Swedish Parliament via its Constitutional Committee. I have written earlier about the revelations and the calls for all the three Auditors General to resign. One did but the other two – who were also implicated in Dagens Nyheter’s expose – did not.

Yesterday the Constitutional Committee held a hearing with the Auditors and came to the startling conclusions that the transgressions were not serious enough for the Auditors to resign. If that was meant to restore the integrity of the Audit Office, it fails spectacularly. In fact, the clear impression I have now is that there is a very cozy relationship between the politicians of the Constitutional Committee and the Auditors.

It does seem that even in Sweden, which prides itself on the probity of its government and governance, the ruling principle is “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”.

Dagens Nyheter:

The statement by the Constitutional Committee (KU) that there are no grounds for dismissing the Auditors general has upset the experts DN has talked to.

“This announcement is remarkable”, said Inga-Britt Ahlenius, the former head of the National Audit Office. and of the 
UN’s internal audit. She said earlier this summer that all Auditors General should resign after what had emerged. “It is strange that KU did not take the time to reflect on what has emerged during the hearing. I also find it strange that they chose not to inquire any further and question others such as the chairman of the FA (Association of Chartered Accountants)”, she said to DN.

Inga-Britt Ahlenius thinks that KU has obviously failed with its recruitment of Auditors General. “Had the right people been recruited this situation would not have arisen. They acted as if they were the bosses of a private consulting firm. Not the Auditors General of a constitutionally constituted National Audit Office”, she said.  …. 

Auditor general Susanne Accum had previously announced her resignation, but her colleagues Margareta Åberg and Ulf Bengtsson are set to remain. Inga-Britt Ahlenius believes that their situation will become unsustainable. “They have abused their trust of the authorities they are supposed to monitor and also that of the public and among their staff. Had the National Audit Office has been a private company they would have been dismissed long ago”.

Professor Olle Lundin is an expert in administrative law at the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University. He has reacted strongly to DN’s revelations. “If the National Audit completely ignore the basic principles we are in a pretty bad way out there. They should lead by example and be extremely effective, because no one examines them”, he told DN in early June.


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