Beggars Banquet: Panhandler With Millions in Cash Pinched in Swedish Paradox

Beggars Banquet: Panhandler With Millions in Cash Pinched in Swedish Paradox
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AP Photo/ Sven-Erik JohanssonViral16:31 15.02.2018Get short URL
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A man who was seized with millions in cash after asking for money for a ticket has puzzled the Nordic nation and inadvertently unleashed a discussion on journalist ethics.

A man who was arrested for aggressive behavior while begging for a bus ticket in the Swedish city of Uppsala had SEK 6 million in cash ($750,000) on him, among other things, stuffed in his jacket as banknotes, the newspaper Uppsala Nya Tidning reported.

According to the police’s account of the incident, the man was literally flinging his money about, as banknotes were flying around during his arrest.

Subsequently, the man was apprehended for suspicions of money laundering, police spokeswoman Lisa Sannervik reported. According to her, the police had good grounds to do so, as this type of sum clearly isn’t “walking-around money” for a person begging for a ticket. Prosecutor Anne Sjöblom told the Nyheter Idag news outlet, that the man was likely to keep his fortune, unless the authorities succeed in proving that it was ill-gained.

Afterwards, the baffling news made national headlines, leaving many Swedes to question the profitability of begging. Uppsala Nya Tidning came up with a correction, stressing that the man isn’t known for being a vocational beggar.

Furthermore, the newspaper stressed that the man was of “Swedish, or at least Nordic origin,” as the Swedish word for “beggar” has in recent years evolved to denote an EU migrant of Roma descent, as they tend to be overrepresented among vagrants roaming Swedish streets.

According to the Uppsala24 news portal, the police’s interpretation of the word “beggar” was far from what it usually means in everyday speech. Stressing this fact was, according to the news portal, “vital” for curbing the spread of “racist” sentiments.

Uppsala Nya Tidning editor-in-chief Jens Petterson defended his newspaper’s “traditional” interpretation, arguing that “beggar” denotes anyone who devotes themselves to begging.

“Begging has practically developed into an occupation in Sweden, not least in Uppsala, and the percentage of beggars has increased considerably throughout the country in recent years,” Petterson told the trade newspaper for journalists, Resumé, which was also critical of UNT’s language use.

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As of November 2015, Sweden was estimated to have around 4,500 beggars. A beggar’s daily earnings vary between SEK 20 and SEK 500 ($2.5 to $62 dollars), national broadcaster SVT reported. Therefore, it would take 12,000 “lucky” days to collect a fortune of this range.

According to Swedish law, the penalty for money laundering is imprisonment for up to six years,depending on the severity of the crime.

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