Sundqvist was elected into the Parliament in 1970 and he served as the minister of education in three cabinets between 1972 and 1975. He was the minister of trade and industry from 1979 to 1981. Sundqvist left the parliament in 1983 and worked as the manager of STS bank from 1982 to 1991.
He was elected as the Chairman of SDP in November 1991, and he was replaced by Paavo Lipponen in June 1993. In 1993, Sundqvist was accused of fraud and he had to resign as the chairman. He was convicted of aggravated debtor's dishonesty. He sentenced to pay back 16.4 million Finnish marks, but only 1.2 million marks was recovered. He also received a 6 months suspended prison sentence. Arja Alho used her authority as the second minister of finance to lower Sundqvist's financial liabilities in 1997.
Nowadays Sundqvist is an entrepreneur and a management consultant.
A smoker for 40 years, Sundqvist suffered a heart attack in Stockholm in 2004. At the age of 61, he was diagnosed with mouth cancer. In 2007, a benign brain tumour (unrelated to the cancer) was found.
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