Statoil embezzlers handed stiff jail terms

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11:22 CET+01:00
Three men have been found guilty of embezzling millions of kroner from the largely state-owned oil company Statoil.

The three men - a consultant for Statoil, an offshore oil and gas supplier, and his colleague - had worked together to bill Statoil for non-existent goods, but the energy company’s accountants went to police last year suspecting the consultant. The Stavanger district-court judge ordered stiff sentences and the payment of all lost funds.

Statoil’s tip brought police raids on locales in newly rich western-Norwegian oil towns Stavanger and Bergen. They acted on a phony invoice for 6 million kroner ($1 million).

The 47-year-old consultant behind the phony billing will do three and a half years of jail time and will have to pay 7 million kroner in damages on top of the embezzled amounts. The man had a long history of employment for Statoil and its predecessor entities.

“Large amounts have been used on bribes over a long period,” prosecutor Espen Haug told Stavanger Aftenbladet.

Though he’s appealing the sentence and some of the fines, the consultant had a quarter of his punishment dropped for cooperating with police.

The owner of the contracting Stavanger-area company got four years and has been denied the right to run a business for an unspecified period of time. He’s expected to appeal the ruling

A third man who worked for the disgraced entrepreneur decided on the spot to appeal his three-year sentence.

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In his ruling, the judge said serious cases of corruption had to be judged harshly.

Statoil, meanwhile, has doubled in size in the past five years and its critics say it has too many peripheral, ex-employee consultants with no real job to do.

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