Victor Carlstrom was practically royalty. Not only was the financial broker just about the hottest thing in the country, his close relationships with the royal family included holiday with members of the royal family on his yacht.
Carlstrom’s brother Johan has been a close friend of Sweden’s Prince Carl Phillip since high school, some 30 years ago. Johan and Prince Carl have been on the same Swedish Touring Car Championship team for the last 10 years. Additionally, Johan Carlstrom’s wife, Meral Tasbas, is a longtime friend of Prince Carl’s wife, Princess Sofia. Both women are famous television personalities in Sweden for over two decades.
At the height of his career, Victor Carlstrom hosted the prince and princess during a vacation on his yacht in St. Tropez. Joining them was a powerful businessman Johan Andersson, owner of Mellby Gard, a large Swedish holding company. This was the royal couple’s first holiday after their wedding, which Johan Carlstrom attended.
Victor Carlstrom was well connected to some of the most powerful people in Sweden and the world. As the leading broker for Folksam, the largest financial company in the country, made Carlstrom a celebrity in his own right.
Shortly after the holiday on the yacht, Victor Carlstrom’s life changed. Guided by professional and personal ethics, he became a reluctant whistleblower. Years later he’s hiding in the United States moving from hotel to hotel every 2 or 3 days to stay safe, and alive.
His story is a cautious tale: Money, greed and a corrupt financial system do not care who you know. It will take down good people, powerful people, connected people. Corruption will bring down even those one step from royalty.
Here’s how according to a recently filed legal action outlines a case of money laundering and whistleblowing took Victor Carlstrom off the waters of St. Topez and into hiding in the United States, where he currently seeks asylum.
According to the case, shortly after starting at Folksam, Victor began to notice oddities and irregularities; soon he was asked to essentially steal from his clients. Once he spoke up to then-CEO Jens Henriksson, he was summarily dismissed. The company never paid him millions of dollars they owed him for being their top broker.
The lawsuit tells the story that removed from the company, Victor began to investigate Folksam. He soon discovered cozy relationships between Henriksson and several Swedish government regulators, including the directors general of the agencies equivalent to the US SEC and IRS. Putting more pieces together, Victor alleges in the suit that he soon discovered a corrupt system that enabled a $150 billion money-laundering scheme that included Folksam, Swedbank, Henriksson and his very powerful friends and agencies.
In addition, the lawsuit suggests that Henriksson put a “Team of 15” Folksam employees together to harass and ruin Victor Carlstrom’s reputation, career, and social standing. Instead of investigations into Folksam, Swedbank and other institutions, it was Carlstrom and his companies that were scrutinized and fined by Swedish regulators. There have been multiple threats against Carlstrom and at least two attempts on his life.
To seek justice, Carlstrom filed a $4.2 billion lawsuit versus the banks, regulators, Henriksson and others involved in the widespread corruption. Included in the scheme, according to the lawsuit, is former Turkish prime minister Binali Yidrim who has close ties to Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan. Immediately after blowing the whistle against Yildrim to Swedish regulators, Victor Carlstrom began receiving death threats out of Turkey.
Representing Victor are famed attorneys Lawrence Schoenbach and Joshua Dratel. Both New York-based lawyers are typically high-profile defense lawyers, which adds some intrigue to the lawsuit itself.