The Holy Metropolis of Sweden and All Scandinavia hereby responds to the latest article published on December 30, 2021 in the Göteborgs-Posten (“GP”).
Initially, in its statement of December 18, 2021, the Metropolis provided truthful and comprehensive answers to all key issues related to the false accusations made by GP in its previous articles, together with supporting documents and evidence.
Although GP reviewed the Metropolis’ statement of December 18, 2021, it did not provide a single substantial comment on any of the points raised in the statement. It seems that GP prefers to completely overlook the facts presented, which completely refute the reporting in GP’s previous articles. The reason for this is plain: GP has no substance and evidence for its false claims and accusations, and is therefore unable to respond to the answers provided by the Metropolis. Of course, several incorrect claims published by GP could easily have been verified as false and retracted, had GP acted according to the precepts of journalistic ethics.
Notwithstanding, GP continues in its latest article to make false accusations based on untrue or totally distorted statements against the Church, lacking any kind of objective evidence to back up its accusations.
In its latest article, GP’s main criticism against the Metropolis is the following and is summarized in the heading of the article:
”Kyrka förde över miljonbelopp till ekobrottsling”
“A church transfers an amount of a million to a financial criminal”
As will be explained in detail below, the entire heading is untrue.
- Firstly, the Metropolis has not “transferred without ground” any amount to anybody. The Metropolis paid an invoice for restoration work actually performed, and of good quality, to a legitimate and licensed contractor.
- Secondly, the contractor was not a financial criminal (Sw. ekobrottsling) when the invoice was paid, and he is not a financial criminal today either. What really happened is that the contractor received a probation/warning, almost two years after completing his work for the Metropolis, for having received parental allowance from a state agency, during a few days which he was not entitled to. According to the Swedish state prosecution agency in charge of financial crimes, what the contractor did is not a “financial crime” (Sw. ekobrott) and the contractor is therefore not a financial criminal (Sw. ekobrottsling) as alleged by GP.
GP’s latest article contains almost entirely untrue statements and has no news value whatsoever (Sw. nyhetsvärde): The Metropolis therefore questions the real intention of GP as the articles do not comply with the requirements of being correct (Sw. korrekt) and objective (Sw. saklig) according to the generally accepted Swedish press ethics of the Swedish Union of Journalists’ professional rules (Sw. Publicitetsregler enligt Journalistförbundet).
At the very least, GP has been exposed as disseminating fake news. Considering, however, that it has been engaging in this practice blatantly and repeatedly, its ethics and intentions must eventually be called into question and scrutinized. The Metropolis is confident that with this statement we will be able to finally conclude and rectify the false claims and accusations made by GP, in order to defend the dignity of thousands of parishioners, families and faithful in our parishes all over Sweden and Scandinavia, as well as the Church as a whole.
- One of the most important issues raised by the Metropolis in its statement of December 18, 2021 was that in its previous articles GP made false statements, alleging that the Swedish Authorities had made clear negative remarks regarding the legality of the Metropolis restoration work conducted on site at the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm. Such statements were never made by the Swedish Authorities and could easily had been verified as false by GP if they would have followed Swedish press ethics. GP has not responded to these facts, nor made any rectification of their own false statement in their new article or in any other way.
In connection with our previous statement, when investigating GP’s statements below, the Metropolis initiated dialogue with both Länsstyrelsen Stockholm and Stockholms Stad from which we can clearly conclude, and prove with hard evidence, that no criticism or negative remarks have been made by the aforementioned authorities concerning the work conducted at the Stockholm Cathedral. Hence, it can objectively be proven as patently false that Länsstyrelsen and Stockholms stad had made the above-referenced derogatory statements, that the works on the Cathedral constituted “svartbygge” i.e. “illegal construction”.
”GP:s granskning visar nu att metropoliten varken ansökte om bygglov hos kommunen eller anmälde renoveringen till Länsstyrelsen – som rent ut kallar renoveringen ett svartbygge.”
“GP’s review now shows that the Metropolitan neither applied for construction permit from the municipality nor reported the renovation to Länsstyrelsen – which bluntly calls the renovation an illegal construction.”
“Både Stockholms stad och länsstyrelsen kallar renoveringen av Sankt Georgios kyrka för ett svartbygge – som man inte sökte tillstånd för.”
“Both Stockholms Stad and Länsstyrelsen call the renovation of Saint George’s church an illegal construction – for which they did not seek a permit.”
Länsstyrelsen and Stockholms stad confirmed in writing to the Metropolis that they had not made such statements, which is evidenced in Attachment 1 and Attachment 2.
The false statements of GP in this regard could easily have been properly fact-checked by GP by contacting Länsstyrelsen and Stockholm stad.
Attachment 1 – Länsstyrelsen email
Attachment 2 – Stockholm stad email
In the latest article of December 30, 2021 GP continues to make false and derogatory statements. We will go through them one by one, demonstrating that GP’s allegations are untrue or totally distorted, and supporting our answers by attaching evidence and relevant documentation.
- General comments on the work carried out at the Stockholm Cathedral
It its latest article, GP makes new accusations and claims against the Metropolis, regarding the contractors engaged for the restoration work undertaken in the Stockholm Cathedral, during 2019. These accusations are based mainly on the invoices published by the Metropolis in its statement of December 18, 2021.
We note that GP’s latest article ambiguously refers to different contractors in a way so that it is unclear to the reader which contractors GP is referring to in several parts of its article. GP is also unclear on when in time different events have unfolded. GP discloses only pieces of information and does not give the entire picture and objective view of the work carried out at the Cathedral. By doing so, GP is confusing the readers.
In light of the above, the Metropolis choses to first give a general description of the work carried out in the Stockholm Cathedral in 2019, so that the readers are given a true, clear and complete picture. Thereafter, we will respond specifically to all the key issues in the article.
The Metropolis decided to restore the exterior of the Cathedral and the work was conducted in 2019. As stated above, the work involved only restoration and maintenance. Such work does not require permit as it does not change anything architecturally, but rather, merely restores the building to its original state.
This project required different kind of skills and therefore the need to engage different contractors with different specializations. The Metropolis requested bids from different potential contractors and selected the contractors that provided the best relation between quality and price. All contractors were independent in relation to the Metropolis and its personnel, and were only selected because of their professional competence, experience and the bid offered. The selection of contractors was made on market terms and the Metropolis and its personnel had no personal interest whatsoever in benefitting any of the contractors.
Before engaging each contractor, the Metropolis applied Swedish generally accepted business practice, and verified each contractor by checking that it had a valid business license, i.e. a so called “F-tax” from the Swedish Tax Agency (Sw. Skatteverket), VAT registration with the same agency (Sw. mervärdesskatteregistrering) and registration as an employer with the same agency (Sw. registrerad som arbetsgivare).
The Metropolis checked that each contractor was in good standing, i.e. had not filed for bankruptcy and that each contractor had a valid and adequate insurance policy.
A major and essential requirement by the Metropolis set for all its contractors was that all laws and regulations should be strictly complied with, and that only workers with Swedish work permits should be employed on the work site.
The Metropolis also requested written bids (Sw. offerter) from each potential bidder and entered into written contracts with each selected contractor, and each contract was reviewed by the Metropolis lawyers.
In its latest article, GP makes the following key accusations against the Metropolis:
- That the Metropolis or its contractors used “svart arbetskraft” or “workers without Swedish work permit”;
- That the contractor Pärla Marina System Städ AB has outstanding tax debts and has filed for bankruptcy. GP also alleges that Pärla Marina System Städ AB was not a legitimate building company.
- That the contractor Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad was not a company but private individual, who is also a convicted a “financial criminal” (Sw. ekobrottsling). GP also claims that the contractor filed for bankruptcy and that the Metropolis is to be blamed for this.
- That 1.5 MSEK were transferred directly to the private individual without any reason – meaning without any work having been done by any contractor justifying the payment.
Below, we will provide answers and clarification to each of these accusations in a clear and structured manner, showing that GP has once again published false claims and accusations without objective grounds or verifications of facts.
- Has the Metropolis engaged “Svart arbetskraft” or “workers without Swedish work permit,” as alleged by GP?
GP reiterates its untrue allegations that workers, without Swedish work permits, were engaged by the Metropolis in the restoration work at the Stockholm Cathedral. We note however, that not only has GP failed to present any evidence for such allegation, but it is also evident that GP is – astonishingly– publishing such false accusations without basic verification of facts, based solely on gossip from certain individuals that have no position within, and no insight in, the church’s affairs.
GP’s statement is in its entirety untrue. As stated above, a major and essential requirement set by the Metropolis for all its contractors was that all laws and regulations should be strictly complied with, and that only workers with Swedish work permits should be employed on the work site.
For this purpose, ID06 arrangement/terminal covering the work site was installed at all times at the Cathedral exterior premises, during the performance of the restoration. ID06 terminals are generally used in Swedish construction sites for the purpose of securing that only workers with valid Swedish work permits can access a work site. All workers have to register each day at such ID06 terminals when entering the work site, with personal cards. Such personal cards are only issued by an independent certified card issuer to individuals with valid work permits, thus workers without a Swedish work permit had no access to the Cathedral work site.
This is a generally accepted standard procedure employed at Swedish construction sites, to prevent access to the work site for workers without a work permit. By installing this equipment, the Metropolis has acted in accordance with good industry practice to secure the site from unauthorised individuals.
For further information, please check the following link of the ID06:
- Was the contractor Pärla Marina System Städ AB a legitimate construction company? Are GP’s claims true that this contractor also filed for bankruptcy and had outstanding tax debts, shortly after he completed work at the Cathedral premises?
GP alleges that the owner of Pärla Marina System Städ AB, which was one of the many contractors engaged by the Metropolis for the Cathedral restoration during 2019, was not involved in the construction business, but only in the “cleaning business.”
Pärla Marina System Städ AB performed work for the restoration of the Stockholm Cathedral and the invoice paid to this contractor is attached below, specifying the nature of the work.
Pärla Marina System Städ AB has substantial activity in the construction sector, as per our contact with the Swedish Tax Agency, on January 3, 2022, and the attached by-laws of the company, evidencing that the legitimate activity of the company includes construction. In addition, the company has also registered construction business, as one of its formal/official activities with the Swedish Tax Agency, under SNI (Engl. Swedish Standard Industrial Classification) code 41200 (Sw. Byggande av bostadshus och andra byggnader).
Attachment 3 – Pärla Marina System Städ AB invoice
Attachment 4 – Pärla Marina System Städ AB by-laws
GP also alleges that Pärla Marina System Städ AB has filed for bankruptcy. Such statement is simply untrue, since Pärla Marina System Städ AB has not filed for bankruptcy as of today, as evidenced in the attached registration documents from the Swedish Companies Registration Office (Sw. Bolagsverket) as of December 31, 2021. Although the above facts are easily verifiable by reviewing Swedish public records, GP has failed to verify these facts before publishing its article.
Attachments 5 – Documents from the Swedish Companies Registration Office
GP also alleges that the Pärla Marina System Städ AB had tax debts a couple of months after completed work at the Cathedral premises, during 2019.
When contacting the Swedish Tax Agency on January 3, 2022, the Swedish Tax Agency (Sw. Skatteverket) confirmed that the contractor had no tax debts whatsoever during 2019-2020, which means that GP’s said statement is untrue.
- Is it true, as GP claims, that:
- the contractor Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad was not a company, but a private individual, who is also a convicted “financial criminal” (Sw. ekobrottsling). GP also claims that the contractor filed for bankruptcy and that the Metropolis is to be blamed for this; and that
- 1.5 MSEK were transferred directly to the private individual unjustifiably – meaning without any work having been done by any contractor justifying the payment.
The true facts are as follows:
The Metropolis engaged the company “Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad” for a short time during 2019, for parts of the restoration of the Stockholm Cathedral.
Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad was at the time a so-called sole trader (Sw. enskild firma), which means that it is a company operated by a private individual. In Sweden, it is totally legal and normal for a private individual to register as a sole trader (or self-employed company) and conduct business through it.
For further information, please check the following link of the Swedish Tax Agency:
GP insinuates in its latest article that it was illegitimate for the Metropolis to engage a contractor doing business as a sole trader. We want to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with engaging a sole trader. Under the Swedish legal system, doing business through a limited liability company (“Ltd”) or a sole trader are equivalently legitimate. What gives a Ltd or sole trader legitimacy to conduct business is that they have obtained a business license, a so called “F-tax” from the Swedish Tax Agency, and are registered as an employer (Sw. registrerad som arbetsgivare) and for VAT (Sw. mervärdesskatteregistrering) with the same agency.
Under Swedish generally accepted business practices, before engaging a contractor, the customer has to check the business license, VAT and the registration as employer of the contractor, and preferably to enter into written contracts.
The Metropolis entered into a written contract with this contractor, and checked beforehand that the contractor had a valid business license and insurance, per attached documents.
The above demonstrates that the Metropolis performed all the required checks of the contractor before engaging the contractor. Hence, the Metropolis has done nothing wrong or inappropriate, neither legally nor ethically, in connection with the engagement of the contractor.
Attachment 6 – Contract, business license & insurance of Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad
When Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad was engaged by the Metropolis, in the summer of 2019, and until it completed its work in the end of November 2019, it had a valid business license (F-tax), was registered as an employer and registered for VAT with the Swedish Tax Agency, and had not been filed for bankruptcy.
The payment of SEK 1 500 000 for the work done by the above contractor was made according to the contractor’s invoice, and payment was deposited to the bank account stated in the invoice, per attachments below.
Attachment 7 – Invoice and payment proof of Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad
So, as evidenced above, GP’s allegation that the Metropolis unjustifiably transferred MSEK 1.5 to a private individual – meaning without any work having been done by the contractor to warrant the payment and for implied fraudulent purposes – is totally false.
As evidenced above, what really happened is that the Metropolis engaged Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad, an independent company with fully legitimate licenses and insurance, to conduct business for work done at the Stockholm Cathedral.
The Metropolis paid the corresponding invoices for such work to the contractor’s bank account, as stated in the invoices. The payment corresponded to the amount of work performed by the contractor.
GP further alleges that the manager of Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad is a financial criminal.
The Metropolis has nothing to comment on the above GP statement, since the Metropolis only checks its contractors’ licenses, etc. for the time that they are utilized by the Metropolis.
Since the above contractor completed his work at the Stockholm Cathedral premises exactly two years ago, it is completely unreasonable and irrational to hold the Metropolis accountable for any unrelated violations committed by its previous contractors, at a later date, after the contract period and completion of the work that the contractor was engaged for.
The contractor was declared in bankruptcy on May 20, 2021, i.e. approximately 1.5 years after the contractor finished its engagement for the Metropolis.
There is no reason why the Metropolis should be blamed for actions performed by a contractor, or for his bankruptcy, long after the latter finished his contractual obligations to the Metropolis.
When the contractor was engaged by the Metropolis, he had a business in good standing and had not been convicted for the “crime” alleged by GP.
So, when GP makes the following statement:
”Kyrka förde över miljonbelopp till ekobrottsling”
“A church transfers an amount of a million to a financial criminal”
It is simply untrue, because of the following grounds:
- First of all, when using the term “transfers” (Sw. förde över”) this insinuates in a derogative manner, a payment without any reason – meaning without any work having been done by the contractor to justify the payment he received – and this is untrue, because the Metropolis paid an invoice issued by the contractor for work done in accordance with the signed contract.
- Secondly, when using the term “to a financial criminal” (Sw. till ekobrottsling) GP means that the Metropolis paid the amount at a moment in time when the contractor had been convicted for a financial crime – which is as well untrue.
The contractor was convicted for the referenced “crime” two years after the contractor’s engagement in the restoration of the Cathedral was completed. Hence, when the Metropolis engaged and paid the contractor’s invoice, he had not yet been prosecuted or convicted of the “crime” referred to by GP.
After the contractor completed the work at the Stockholm Cathedral premises, and the Metropolis paid him in full, there was no further contact with the contractor.
GP’s attempt to connect the contractor’s business with the Metropolis is simply unreasonable. The logic behind GP is that just because someone engages a contractor, they should be blamed for any future activity or violations of such contractor retroactively. This simply does not make any sense. Following GP’s logic, the Metropolis should have had the ability to see into the future and foresee that the contractor would long time later be declared for bankruptcy or be convicted for criminal offences.
In addition to the above, the Metropolis can conclude that the alleged “financial crime” committed by the contractor was that he received parental allowance (Sw. föräldrarpenning) from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Sw. Försäkringskassan) for a few days, when he was not entitled to such allowance. Although this is of course a breach of the law, it is in fact not a “financial crime” (Sw. ekobrott) according to the Swedish Economic Crime Authority (Sw. Ekobrottsmyndigheten), as per the Metropolis conversation with such authority, on January 3, 2022.
It is also worth mentioning that the contractor only received a warning (Sw. villkorlig dom) and had to pay a fee;
Hence, when GP uses the term “financial criminal” for a person who received a limited amount of parental allowance, which he was not entitled to, this is a distortion of facts, since according to the Swedish Economic Crime Authority such a person did not commit a financial crime and is therefore not considered a financial criminal (Sw. ekobrottsling).
Such a distortion of facts cannot be considered as correct (Sw. korrekt) or objective (Sw. saklig) and can only be done with the purpose of creating sensation and the sense of scandal, especially when the true events have limited or no news value (Sw. nyhetsvärde). Considering the above, it is questionable if this type of publication is in accordance with the Swedish press ethics of the Swedish Union of Journalists’ professional rules (Sw. Publicitetsregler enligt Journalistförbundet).
Finally, GP states that the Metropolis is responsible for the contractor’s bankruptcy. This is also false. The Metropolis has recently been in contact with the contractor and the bankruptcy administrator. The contractor has confirmed that the reason for his bankruptcy was the Covid-19 pandemic and the diminished amount of work from other clients as a result of the pandemic. The contractor himself confirmed that the bankruptcy was in no way, either directly or indirectly, connected to the work conducted for the Metropolis.
GP states that the Metropolis did not pay an invoice because of “lack of money” (Sw. “hade dåligt med pengar och inte kunde betala sin faktura”).
The truth is that the Metropolis rejected the last invoice issued by Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad, because it (i.e. the Metropolis) felt that the aforementioned company was overcharging the number of working hours.
The Metropolis never argued that it had “lack of money” when seeking a reduction of the invoice. The objection raised by the Metropolis against Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad is set out in the attached email, where one can clearly see that the grounds for the rejection of the invoice was not the “lack of money”, but because the above company was, in the opinion of the Metropolis, overcharging the number of working hours.
The Metropolis has a duty to handle its resources with care and is obliged to object to an invoice when the invoice does not correspond to services actually rendered to the Metropolis.
The parties negotiated, following the referenced sent email, whereupon the company issued a new invoice, which was paid in full by the Metropolis.
Attachment 8 – Metropolis email to Snabbt och Enkelt Byggentreprenad