Abba star in row with Buddhist monk over money, money, money
Published 27/11/2010 | 05:00
As the pupil of a Buddhist monk, Anni-Frid Reuss, the former Abba singer, and her meditation teacher shared a zen-like affinity.
But that is where the tale of peaceful harmony ends. Ms Reuss, also known as Frida, failed in an attempt yesterday to reclaim £4.5m (€5.3m) she claimed she lent her former teacher to build a Buddhist temple.
Along with her English boyfriend and business partner Henry Smith (54), who is heir to the WH Smith fortune, Ms Reuss brought the bankruptcy order against her former teacher, a Buddhist monk, who owns the meditation and acupuncture resort. Ms Reuss claimed his company, which owns the Yangtorp Qigong Resort in Sweden, had missed a repayment on the loan.
But a court in the Swedish city of Malmo rejected the bankruptcy order after Mr Smith's lawyer was unable to present written evidence that he "rightfully acquired" three unpaid bills from contractors working on the temple.
Marcus Bongart, the Polish-born owner and manager of the resort, has argued that the £4.5m was in fact a donation to help fund the building of the temple.
Mr Bongart, who taught Ms Reuss the ancient Chinese medical philosophy of Qigong, has been building the temple for the past 12 years.
Describing Ms Reuss as an "old friend" he said that she had been a frequent visitor to the centre. "We've had disagreements over how to develop the temple, but that is all that happened," Mr Bongart told a newspaper.
"The money is not there to be paid back, it is invested in the buildings."
In another blow to Ms Reuss (64), the court also ruled that she had to pay costs of £15,000 (€17,696).
Despite the rejection of the bankruptcy order, the court nonetheless ruled that the claim was in dispute. Ms Reuss and Mr Smith said they would continue to fight to prove that the money was lent, not given.
Carl-Gustaf Soder, Ms Reuss's lawyer, said: "Today it looks like there will be a trial to show that Bongart did indeed borrow the money."
Through her success with Abba, Ms Reuss built up a considerable fortune, with estimates putting her wealth at £100m (€117m).
The case has dragged her into the spotlight, which she has sought to avoid since Abba split in 1982. (© Daily Telegraph, London)