US launch fraud probe into Norway firm Sapa

Norwegian aluminium company Sapa said on Tuesday that US authorities are investigating one of its subsidiaries for lying to customers, including Nasa, about its products.

US launch fraud probe into Norway firm Sapa
The alleged fraud concerns inaccurate information about mechanical features of products supplied to customers. Photo: Sapa

“Following internal investigations, Sapa Profiles Inc (…) has learned that test results for some aluminium profiles made in SPI factories have been manipulated by some employees,” said Sapa, which is jointly owned by Norwegian companies Norsk Hydro and Orkla.

The alleged fraud concerns inaccurate information about mechanical features of products supplied to customers, including space agency Nasa, between 1996 and 2015.

Sapa Profiles Inc said it was cooperating with a US Department of Justice probe into the allegations.

Pending the outcome, the company has been barred from bidding for any contracts from US federal authorities.


Telenor suspends four execs over Vimpelcom

Telenor on Wednesday suspended its finance director, legal head, and two other executives, as part of its deepening internal investigation into possible complicity with alleged corruption at VimpelCom, the Russian telecoms group.

Telenor suspends four execs over Vimpelcom
Telenor finance director Richard Olav Aa alongside chief executive Sigve Brekke at Telenor's latest results. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix
Telenor finance director Richard Olav Aa, General Cousel Pål Wien Espen, Fridtjof Rusten, the finance director of its Thai subsidiary, and Ole Bjorn Sjulstad, the head of Telenor Russia. 
Telenor chief executive Sigve Brekke stressed that neither Telenor, nor Deloitte, which has been hired to carry out the internal investigation, had any evidence that the four were aware of or involved in corruption at Vimpelcom. 
“We have no reason to believe that these have been involved in the alleged corruption in VimpelCom. They are trusted managers with a solid track record in Telenor,” he said. 
“This is being done in order that they are not able to question the independent investigation being conducted by Deloitte.” 
However, according to Cato Schiøtz, a lawyer for former VImpelcom chief executive Jo Lunder, the four executives had all been sent two e-mails in 30 September and 4 October 2011, in which an anonymous whistleblower expressed concerns over payments in connection with that Vimpelcom's licenses in Uzbekistan. 
“A Telenor employee in emails on 30 September and 4 October notified Telenor about concerns related to the payment Vimpelcom had carried out,” Shiøtz told VG .”In the emails, the employee said that he had alerted Jo Lunder but that the transaction had gone through anyway after Lunder had conducted surveys.” 
Rusten and Sjulstad have both previously served as Telenor nominees on Vimpelcom’s board, while Olav Aa and Pål Wien Espen have had key legal roles within the parent company. 
Telenor owns a 33 percent stake in the Russian operator, which is being investigated by US and Dutch authorities for allegedly paying bribes in order to gain access to the Uzbek telecoms market.