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Norway freezes all investigations into EEA-related benefits claims

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Norway freezes all investigations into EEA-related benefits claims
Outgoing Norwegian Director of Public Prosecutions (Rigsadvokaten), Tor-Aksel Busch (L) in a 2012 file photo. Photo: AFP
11:25 CET+01:00
The Norwegian state prosecutor has frozen all ongoing investigations into possible benefit fraud related to recipients who have spent time in other EEA countries.

Norway’s Labour and Welfare Administration, NAV, is embroiled in an ongoing controversy after it incorrectly interpreted EU rules on the area, resulting in people being wrongly convicted of benefit fraud.

READ ALSO: Explained: Norway’s NAV social security scandal in five minutes

On Monday, the authority admitted it had made comprehensive errors in its interpretations of sickness benefits, support for people who need medical treatment or other measures to help them get back to work (work assessment allowance or arbeidsavklaringspenger, AAP) and support for people who are unable to work due to a sick child’s care needs (care benefit or pleiepenger).

Resultantly, at least 48 people have been wrongly convicted of social security fraud after spending time in EEA countries while receiving the social security assistance, NTB reported.

Outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions (Rigsadvokaten), Tor-Aksel Busch, on Friday instructed police to halt all ongoing investgations of reports handed to NAV relating to extended stays in the EEA area, Rett24 reported.

“In our view, the situation is so uncertain legally that I don’t think it is justifiable to bring people to court based on complaints filed with NAV related to this issue,” Busch said to Rett24.

“This must be clarified, and we need a lot more material from the authority before making a qualified assessment of whether we agree with their assessment. So everything is now on standby,” he added.

The instruction was sent to all of Norway’s police districts.

Busch’s term as director of public prosecutions ends on Friday. He will be succeeded by Jørn Sigurd Maurud.

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