The co-founder and chairman of the company aiming to build the UK’s first electric car battery “gigaplant” has quit after it emerged he was convicted for tax fraud in Sweden, BBC.com reports.
Britishvolt’s Lars Carlstrom said he stepped down to avoid becoming “a distraction” to the project in Blyth, Northumberland.
On Friday, the company announced the plant would create up to 3,000 jobs. Construction of the factory is due to start next year.
Mr Carlstrom was sentenced to eight months in prison and given a four-year trading ban in the 1990s, which was later reduced to a conditional sentence and 60 hours of community service. He was later accused of acting negligently by Sweden’s tax authority over a separate unpaid tax bill for one of his companies in 2011.
The 55-year-old Swede also has links to Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov, the former Portsmouth FC owner who skipped English bail five years ago as he faced extradition to Lithuania where prosecutors wanted to question him over allegations he stripped half a billion euros from a bank.
Mr Antonov denied wrongdoing and there was no suggestion Mr Carlstrom was involved.
Responding to media inquiries about his conviction, Mr Carlstrom said: “I am aware of this minor allegation, that stems from over 25 years ago. Subsequently I have had endorsement from the Swedish government.
“It has always been my intention to pass on the chairmanship of Britishvolt, once the company has been established.
“Given the crucial importance of Britishvolt’s mission to put the UK at the forefront of the global battery industry, I don’t wish to become a distraction so I am stepping aside with immediate effect.”
Announcing its plans for the £2.6bn factory in Blyth, the company said it would be the largest industrial investment in the North East since the arrival of Nissan in the 1980s.