Nobel jurors face bribery probe for China trips

Nobel prize jurors who accepted all-expenses-paid trips to China to discuss the awards are being investigated on suspicion of bribery, a Swedish prosecutor said yesterday.

Anti-corruption prosecutor Nils-Erik Schultz said he opened the investigation to determine whether the trips in 2006 and 2008 were meant to influence the decisions of the Nobel committees. He declined to name the jurors.

The investigation was prompted by a Swedish radio report which said three jurors from the medicine, chemistry and physics committees were invited to China to explain the selection process and what it takes to win a Nobel prize. Chinese authorities paid for their plane tickets, hotels and meals, the report said. If charged and convicted, the jurors would face fines or up to two years in prison. But Swedish prosecutors often drop preliminary investigations without pressing charges.

Gunnar Oquist, the permanent secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards prizes in chemistry, physics and economics, acknowledged that the trips were inappropriate. "We should be very careful not to put ourselves in a situation where the Nobel committee's work can be called into question," he said.

Five Europeans, four Americans and three Japanese received the 2008 awards last week.


No comments: