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Politics: What's the latest in Norway's conflict of interest scandal?

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Politics: What's the latest in Norway's conflict of interest scandal?
Ministers, the PM and a former PM were grilled by Norway's parliament on Tuesday. Pictured is the Norwegian parliament.Photo by Marco Süssi on Unsplash

Norway's PM, the former PM and a number of current and sacked ministers were grilled or set to be questioned by parliament on Tuesday in the latest development of a conflict of interest scandal Norwegian politics has been embroiled in for months. 

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Six high-level politicians, the current and previous PM among them, were grilled in the Norwegian parliament (Storting) on Tuesday. 

The Control and Constitution Committee quizzed the politicians about the conflict of interest scandal that has engulfed the top level of Norwegian politics since the summer. 

What is the conflict-of-interest scandal? 

The scandal is several incidents at the top level of Norwegian politics. The most high profile has been the share trading of the husband of former PM Erna Solberg while she was PM between 2013-2021. 

His share trading represents a conflict of interest as it meant that Solberg could not make impartial decisions. Solberg has maintained that she wasn't aware of her husband's share trading. 

Last week, Norway's economic crime unit said it wouldn't open an investigation into Solberg or her husband, Sindre Finnes. 

Norway's former Higher Education Minister, Ola Borten Moe, had to step down after it was revealed he traded shares while minister

Former Foreign Minister Anniken was also relieved of her post after it was revealed her husband had also traded shares

Meanwhile, Tonje Brenna, Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion, and former Culture Minister Annette Trettbergstuen faced ethics scandals after approving acquaintances to positions on public boards. 

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The scandal has put pressure on the government generally, as it has raised questions on whether the PM has a good overview of his ministers and whether the rights apparatuses are in place to prevent such cases from popping up. 

What's the latest? 

A number of revelations were made on Tuesday. Erna Solberg admitted that she should have done more to uncover her husband's share trading while PM PM when grilled about her own partiality. 

She added that she would have declared herself partial if she had been aware of the share trading. Solberg said that she would have had to have resigned if the share trading scandal had broken when she was PM. 

Meanwhile, former Culture Minister Annette Trettbergstuen came out swinging against her former boss, PM Jonas Gahr Støre. 

She said the PM's claim that she had been warned about conflict of interest when making appointments to public boards was false. 

"I want to be clear that I have not appointed my friends after warnings. That I have not knowingly and willfully broken rules or defied my own official duties, as the impression left behind is indisputable with many," she said. 

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At the time of writing, the committee had yet to question Anniken Huitfeldt, Tonje Brenna, Erna Solberg for the second time and Jonas Gahr Støre. 

Where could the scandal go next? 

Støre had hoped to put the scandal to bed with a government reshuffle in October. However, revelations like Trettbergstuen's will raise more questions over Støre's handling of the scandal and put an already embattled government under more pressure. 

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The scandal is unlikely to go away anytime soon either, as the Controls and Constitution Committee will likely draw its own conclusions on how the government has handled the scandal and how Støre has led the government. 

For Solberg, it's looking as if she might be out of the woods for now, as she won't be facing the pressure of a police probe.

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