The Swedish state-owned alcohol retailer Systembolaget has suspended six of its store managers and is considering de-listing products from three of its suppliers on suspicion of bribery and corruption.

The three suppliers and five of the managers also face prosecution from the Swedish courts on the same charges.

Speaking to just-drinks today, Bjorn Rydberg, the Systembolaget press spokesman, said the company suspected that the store managers had accepted bribes from three suppliers to give prominence to their products within the stores.

He said: "Systembolaget is eager to be serious and not favour or disfavour any product or producer."

He also confirmed that all details of the internal investigation had now been passed on to the Central Prosecutor of Sweden.

Rydberg would not divulge the names of the suppliers or the managers, saying that the company had not yet published that information. However, he did confirm that the suspected parties were involved across the product board, in wines, spirits and beer.

Systembolaget has sent out a memorandum to all its importers, updating them of the news. It said that: "The reason for our actions is that they have breached the policy that regulate how the Systembolaget interacts with its importers and wrongfully contributed to inflating their sales of one or more products."

The company went on to say that it was considering one or more actions against the suppliers including delisting a number of their products immediately, temporarily freezing for a month all sales for an additional number of products, and not allowing any offers from these importers for full year.

Systembolaget is a state-owned alcohol retail monopoly, consisting of 417 stores and about 580 local agencies, serving about 2 million customers every week. The laws about how alcohol is sold in the country are strict, compared to the rest of Europe. And Sweden's government has clung on to the monopoly system, despite pressure from other European governments, because it believes that limiting private profit based on alcohol sales will help reduce overall consumption.

On its website, www.systembolaget.se, the company states: "We do not encourage people to consume alcoholic beverages. Neither do we support nor actively market any individual brand or engage in sales promotion. Of course this does not prevent the staff from giving good advice when it comes to selecting a certain beverage to go with a given kind of food. But they will never try to persuade people into buying more than they initially intended."