Ivar Kreuger: An International Swindler of Magnitude

Tage Alalehto



This essay discusses the case of Ivar Kreuger, the founder of Kreuger & Toll Inc. (a Swedish match conglomerate), known as the “Match King”. After his death in 1932, Kreuger was accused of falsifying accounts, forging documents and concealing a misappropriation of funds of a massive scale in the USA and Europe during the 1920s. The aim of this study is to explore the case of Ivar Kreuger and the business world of which he belonged, from a perspective of critical criminology, and mainly a left realist viewpoint. Using an integrative approach by combining data on an institutional, organizational and individual level, the essay will explore the case as a rather typical phenomenon within a capitalistic economy, despite its extreme outcome. It was the combination of a culture which bred monopolistic endeavors in business, together with an autocratic style of leadership and an ego which was intent on conquering, which lead to one of the worst known swindles in the history of white collar crime.


white collar crime, trust, war-ravaged Europe, concession loans, emissions

Full Text:



Alvesalo, A., & Tombs, S. (2002). Working for Criminalization of Economic Offending: Contradictions for Critical Criminology? Critical Criminology, 11(1), 21–40. doi:10.1023/A:1021126217510

Alvesalo, A., Tombs, S., Virta, E., & Whyte, D. (2006). Re-imagining crime prevention: controlling corporate crime? Crime, Law and Social Change, 45(1), 1–25. doi:10.1007/s10611-005-9004-2

Arlebäck, S. O. (2000). Kreugerkraschen : storbankernas verk? Skanör: Wallgård.

Babiak, P., Neumann, C. S., & Hare, R. D. (2010). Corporate psychopathy: Talking the walk. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 28(2), 174–193. doi:10.1002/bsl.925

Bjerre, P. (1932). Kreuger. Stockholm: Natur och kultur.

Braithwaite, J. (1988). White-Collar Crime, Competition, and Capitalism: Comment on Coleman. American Journal of Sociology, 94(3), 627–632. doi:10.2307/2780256

Byttner, anders. (1951). Arvet efter Ivar Kreuger. Natur och Kultur.

Cederschiöld, G. (1937). Tretton år med Ivar Kreuger. Stockholm: Natur och kultur.

Clikeman, P. M. (2009). Called to account : fourteen financial frauds that shaped the American accounting profession. New York: Routledge. Hämtad från http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/toc/ecip0822/2008028151.html

DeKeseredy, W. S., & Perry, B. (2006). Advancing Critical Criminology: Theory And Application. Lexington Books.

Eddy, G. A. (1937). Security Issues and Real Investment in 1929. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 19(2), 79–91. doi:10.2307/1928241

Farrington, D. P. (2008). Integrated Developmental and Life-Course Theories of Offending (Advances in Criminological Theory). Transaction Publishers.

Flesher, D. L., & Flesher, T. K. (1986). Ivar Kreuger’s Contribution to U.S. Financial Reporting. The Accounting Review, 61(3), 421–434. doi:10.2307/247150

Friedrichs, D. (2004). Enron Et Al.: Paradigmatic White Collar Crime Cases for the New Century. Critical Criminology, 12(2), 113–132. doi:10.1023/B:CRIT.0000040258.21821.39

Galbraith, J. K. (2009). The Great Crash of 1929. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Glete, J. (1981). Kreugerkoncernen och krisen på svensk aktiemarknad: The Kreuger group and the crisis on the Swedish stock market : studier om svenskt och internationellt riskkapital under mellankrigstiden. Almqvist & Wiksell International.

Gäfvert, B. (1979). Kreuger, riksbanken och regeringen : [Kreuger, Sveriges riksbank and the Swedish government]. Stockholm: LiberFörlag.

Hassbring, L. (1979). The international development of the Swedish match company, 1917-1924. Stockholm: LiberFörlag.

Historisk statistik för Sverige Statistiska översiktstabeller : utöver i del I och del II publicerade t.o.m. år 1950. Statistical survey. (1960). Örebro ;: Statistiska centralbyrån (SCB).

Ingham, G. (2013). Capitalism: With a New Postscript on the Financial Crisis and Its Aftermath. John Wiley & Sons.

Kumar, G., Flesher, D., & Flesher, T. (2007). Ivar Kreuger Reborn: A Swedish/American Accounting Fraud Resurfaces in Italy and India (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 1025525). Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. Hämtad från http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1025525

Lasslett, K. (2010). Scientific Method and the Crimes of the Powerful. Critical Criminology, 18(3), 211–228. doi:10.1007/s10612-010-9100-1

Laub, J. H., & Sampson, R. J. (2003). Shared beginnings, divergent lives : delinquent boys to age 70. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Levnadsvillkor och hushållsvanor i städer och industriorter omkring år 1933 : [Les budgets de ménage dans les villes et dans les agglomérations industrielles vers 1933]. (1938). Stockholm.

Lindgren, Hå. (1982). The Kreuger Crash of 1932 in memory of a financial genius, or was he a simple swindler? Scandinavian Economic History Review, 30(3), 189–206. doi:10.1080/03585522.1982.10407986

Lönnborg, M., Ögren, A., & Rafferty, M. (2011). Banks and Swedish financial crises in the 1920s and 1930s. Business History, 53(2), 230–248. doi:10.1080/00076791.2011.555108

Mills, C. W. (1971). Makteliten. Stockholm: Rabén & Sjögren.

Partnoy, F. (2010). Historical Perspectives on the Financial Crisis: Ivar Kreuger, the Credit-Rating Agencies, and Two Theories About the Function, and Dysfunction, of Markets (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 1547201). Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network. Hämtad från http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=1547201

Partnoy, F. (2011). Tändstickskungen Ivar Kreuger : århundradets finansskandal. Stockholm: Månpocket.

Piquero, A. R., Farrington, D. P., & Blumstein, A. (2007). Key issues in criminal career research : new analyses of the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development. New York: Cambridge University Press. Hämtad från http://www.loc.gov/catdir/enhancements/fy0642/2006011725-d.html

Scott, M. B., & Lyman, S. M. (1968). Accounts. American Sociological Review, 33(1), 46–62. doi:10.2307/2092239

Shaplen, R., & Galbraith, J. K. (1960). Kreuger, genius and swindler. New York: Knopf.

Slapper, G., & Tombs, S. (1999). Corporate Crime. Longman Group United Kingdom.

Thunholm, L.-E. (2003). Ivar Kreuger. Rimbo: Fischer & Co.

Tombs, S., & Whyte, D. (2003). Unmasking the Crimes of the Powerful. Critical Criminology, 11(3), 217–236. doi:10.1023/B:CRIT.0000005811.87302.17

Trolle, U. af. (1992). Bröderna Kreuger : Torsten och Ivar. Stockholm: Svenska dagbladet.

Wikander, U. (1977). Ivar Kreugers tändsticksmonopol 1925-1930: fem fallstudier av marknadskontroll genom statsmonopol.

Williams, J. (2008). The lessons of ”Enron”: Media accounts, corporate crimes, and financial markets. THEORETICAL CRIMINOLOGY, 12(4), 471–499. doi:10.1177/1362480608097153

Wozniak, J. (2009). C. Wright Mills and higher immorality: implications for corporate crime, ethics, and peacemaking criminology. Crime, Law and Social Change, 51(1), 189–203. doi:10.1007/s10611-008-9151-3


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Attribution to include the author or artist's name, date of first publication,
and the name of our journal: Radical Criminology.
ISSN 1929-7904
(Print) | ISSN 1929-7912 (Online)