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Exec at Norway's top bank aware of tax haven use: report

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Exec at Norway's top bank aware of tax haven use: report
DNB's Rune Bjerke has been under increasing pressure from key politicians who were unsatisfied with the partially state-owned bank’s response. Photo:Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix
09:14 CEST+02:00
One of the top executives at DNB, Norway’s largest bank, knew for five years that the bank’s subsidiary DNB Luxembourg helped customers set up companies in the Seychelles, VG reported.
That goes against the bank’s claims that its current management knew nothing about helping clients set up companies in the tax haven. 
 
According to VG’s report, top executive Terje Turnes was part of DNB Luxembourg’s leadership between 2005 and 2010 and knew full well that customers were being offered help to set up firms in the Seychelles. 
 
Turnes is now DNB’s executive vice president for risk management, calling into serious question bank CEO Rune Bjerke’s claims that the use of tax havens was unknown to “management, board of directors and internal and external controls”. 
 
DNB apologized for its practices last week but stressed that the company did not break any laws or regulations. 
 
“That it was legal to create these kinds of companies does not mean that it was right for us to do it for these customers,” Bjerke said. 
 
Bjerke called the practice of helping customers establish companies in tax havens “a closed chapter at our business in Luxembourg”, but the CEO has been under increasing pressure from key politicians who were unsatisfied with the partially state-owned bank’s response to the revelations. 
 
A spokesman for Business Minister Monica Mæland said on Monday that the ministry would carefully go through the bank’s internal report on DNB Luxembourg’s practices. 
 
Despite VG’s report that Turnes was privy to the subsidiary’s practices, it’s unlikely that he will face any personal consequences. 
 
“Starting a witch hunt is less important than learning from the conditions that led to this practice being established,” Bjerke said on Monday. 
 
The DNB revelations came to light as part of ‘The Panama Papers’, a huge cross-border journalism collaboration that has been analysing millions of records held by Mossack Fonseca, an international law firm based in Panama.
 
Some 400 journalists from 80 countries pored through the Mossack Fonseca files, including emails, receipts, bank statements, copied passports and others – 11 million in all – for more than a year. 
 
According to Aftenposten, more than 200 Norwegians were listed as Mossack Fonseca customers. 
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