The million fee disappeared

By: Klas Lindberg         From: Aftonbladet - December 18, 2002         Translated by: Clair

They conquered the world with the tones of "The Final Countdown". The money rolled in, but then the bankruptcy came. The millions disappeared and the members of EUROPE became prey for the officials.

The reunion during the millennium change would have got their economy back on its feet. Instead there was another blow. Aftonbladet can tell the story today, of how the swindling affairs happened.

We have been deceived
After the great success in the 80's, the tax officials decided to charge the members of the band. After some time the court decided that the stars from one of Sweden's biggest rock bands of all time would have to pay a sum that had increased into 19 million Swedish Kronor (2 400 000 US Dollars) from the due taxes.

The gig in Stockholm at the millennium night would have been the rescue from the debt, but between two and three million Kronor 
(between 256 000 and 385 000 US Dollars) have been lost on IT stock shares.

"We have been deceived," says bassist John Levén.

The story of EUROPE's economic affairs began some time in 1988. The authorities decided to proceed against Joey Tempest, Mic Michaeli, Ian Haugland, John Levén and Kee Marcello, who had moved to the tax paradise Turks and Caicos on the Bahamas, following the advice of their tax advisers. The taxing authorities thought that they had been Swedish residents and should be taxed accordingly.

After a number of hearings in the courts, the authorities determined in 1998 that the band members have to pay a sum that had grown into 19 million Kronor.

"I can't work too much, because then the taxes will increase too," said John Levén back then.

But at the end of 1999 they saw the light. They each got a half million
(64 000 US Dollars). For a record fee the band would reunite for a gig in Stockholm at New Year's Eve. The rumor was that the members would get 21 million Kronor (2 700 000 US Dollars).

The fee was considerably smaller, about a half million per band member. But the tax authorities saw what was in the newspapers and promised to try collecting the whole fee. That is why Levén, Haugland, Michaeli and Marcello's fees were invested in the company of an acquaintance, Richard Wahlström, called "Aktiv förvaltning i Sigtuna AB".

The deal was that they would later receive salaries from the company, and then have the money resting until the taxes were deleted.

"Otherwise we would have played for free," says John Levén.

Between two and three millions went to Wahlström's company. Wahlström was a day trader who speculated in IT shares. He mostly placed his bet on the high risk shares of Framfab, Icon and Adcore when they were at their highest. Then the IT crash came. The shares became worthless and the salaries expired.

The salaries ceased to be paid
When the members of the band looked for Wahlström, he had gone underground.

"He had speculated everything and was gone. The only thing that was said was that a small part of the money would be invested in shares, but never in high risk shares," says John Levén.

"We never had any knowledge about the company and the salaries ceased to be paid. I don't know exactly what has happened," says Ian Haugland.

Richard Wahlström says that he has big debts himself and that his company is going bankrupt.

"I failed," says Richard Wahlström. And also says that he never discussed with the band members about where the money would be invested, so officially he had done no fault. "We should have had it all in written form, I agree."

He hasn't sent any yearly reports for the company PRV in spite of numerous reminders. That is why on Monday the company will be forcibly liquidated.

Joey can't pay
Today the taxes have been deleted for Levén, Marcello and Haugland, as it has been five years since their verdict.

"Now I can buy a video recorder on hire purchase without being busted," says Haugland.

The two members who still have big debts are Mic Michaeli (1.5 million Kronor
- about 190 000 US Dollars) and Joey Tempest (8.5 million Kronor - about 1.1 million US Dollars).

In Joey Tempest's case, the officials have applied for a five years' delay of the deletion because he lives in Ireland. On Monday Joey's envoy sent a statement to the court in Stockholm to appeal the suit. According to lawyer Lars Engström, Joey Tempest can't pay the debt. The problem will be solved some time in the spring.

The economic status of the band in 2002:
Joey Tempest
Paid his whole fee from the Millennium gig, 668 100 Swedish Kronor
(86 000 US Dollars), to the tax authorities. Still owes 8.5 millions in taxes, which would have been deleted this year, but the court may decide on a prolongation of five more years.
Income 2000: No occupation, lives in Ireland.

Kee Marcello
Is free of debt. His tax debt on 2.47 million Kronor
(317 000 Dollars) was deleted on December 31, 2001.
Income 2000: 0 Kronor.

John Levén
Has about 34 000 Kronor
(4 400 US Dollars) to pay. His tax debt on 2.43 million Kronor (312 000 US Dollars) was deleted on December 31, 2001.
Income 2000: No occupation.

Ian Haugland
Has 10 000 Kronor
(1 300 US Dollars) to pay. His tax debt on 2.44 million Kronor (313 000 US Dollars) was deleted on December 31, 2001.
Income 2000: 302 886 Kronor
(39 000 US Dollars).

John Norum
Has paid all his dues and is completely free of debt.
Income 2000: 32 864 Kronor
(4 200 US Dollars).

Mic Michaeli
Still has a debt of 1.5 million Kronor, which will be deleted on December 31, 2002.
Income 2000: 366 565 Kronor
(47 000 US Dollars).

Back to the Articles menu