The charges, more extensive than prosecutors had suggested last week, come as officials with Scotland Yard and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continue to investigate the case, which involves the Swedish underworld, fake Homeland Security officials and an exotic car collection.
The case stems from the 162-mph crash of the Enzo, one of only 400 made, on Pacific Coast Highway on Feb. 21.
Eriksson told sheriff's deputies that he was a passenger and that the driver, a man he knew only as "Dietrich," had fled into the hills.
But prosecutors charged Monday that Dietrich never existed and that Eriksson had been behind the wheel — with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit — when the crash occurred. The charges were filed after officials received results of a DNA test of blood found on the vehicle's driver-side air bag.
Laying out their case against Eriksson for the first time, prosecutors accused him of embezzlement and grand theft for allegedly bringing the Enzo and the rest of his $3.8-million car collection to the United States, even though he had only leased them from British financial institutions. The lease contract, authorities said, prohibited him from taking the vehicles out of England.
He was also charged with possessing a handgun, which is illegal because he had been convicted of drug and counterfeiting felonies in Sweden.
Eriksson, dressed in an orange jail uniform, appeared in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom packed with journalists from around the world.
His attorneys protested that the $5.5-million bail set by Judge Mary Strobel was excessive. Prosecutors sought the high amount because they said detectives searching his Bel-Air estate April 8 found an airline ticket in Eriksson's name that would have him depart to London two days later.
"Right now, I have six or seven murder cases, including a death penalty case, where the bail is $1 million," said attorney Andrew Flier outside court.
Eriksson's other attorney, David Elden, said the .357-caliber handgun was not his client's but belonged "to a deputy sheriff for Orange County." The attorney did not elaborate, and Orange County Sheriff's Department officials declined to comment.
In an interview outside court, Elden described Eriksson as "totally innocent of all these charges."
"The press has blown this out of proportion," he said, adding that Eriksson is in a dispute with the British financial institutions over ownership of the destroyed Ferrari as well as two other expensive vehicles.
Elden also said Eriksson is not a flight risk because he has business ties in Los Angeles, though he did not say what they were.
Eriksson arrived in Los Angeles sometime last year, moving into the posh Bel-Air Crest section of Los Angeles with his wife and young son. Eriksson had been an executive with Gizmondo, a London-based video game company that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year with more than $200 million in debt. The finances of that company are now under investigation.
According to Swedish police records contained in the prosecutors' court filing, Eriksson in the late 1980s and early '90s was involved in counterfeiting, assault and drug crimes tied to a Swedish underworld group in Uppsala, a city 50 miles north of Stockholm. He was sentenced to prison three separate times, according to the records.
Some observers Monday marveled at how the single-car, non-injury crash in Malibu could unravel such a string of revelations.
"It's amazing. If the guy didn't get into the wreck, none of this would have happened," said Malibu Mayor Andy Stern, who said he hopes the charges send a message to other sports car drivers who exceed the speed limit on PCH.