Oil fund boss threw an elegant party
January 3, 2011
We can’t confirm that he danced the night away or even loosened his tie, but details recently emerged of a party hosted by oil fund boss Yngve Slyngstad that cost nearly NOK 2 million. “Entirely appropriate,” an aide told an inquiring reporter.
The party was thrown last summer when the oil fund, which invests Norway’s oil revenues for future generations, opened its new office in Singapore, reports newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). It involved a gala dinner with open bar at the posh Fullerton Hotel, an elegant and historic hostelry that boasts five stars even in the competitive Asian hotel market.
The oil fund, part of Norges Bank (Norway’s central bank), invited around 70 guests to the exclusive gathering and flew in 18 top leaders from the bank and the Norwegian finance ministry, including the Finance Minister himself, Sigbjørn Johnsen.
They were all served a five-course meal with Norwegian entertainment provided by the Hemsing sisters who play classical violin. They were also flown down to Singapore by the oil fund hosts. Local entertainment was included in the form of young Abigail Sin, a teenaged pianist described by Time Magazine as among the best musicians in the area.
It all cost NOK 1.85 million (more than USD 300,000) but oil fund officials defend the amount. “We represented the Norwegian state in another country,” communications adviser Øystein Sjølie told DN. “When you represent overseas, it’s important to do it in a way that’s viewed as appropriate in the host country.”
‘No gifts please’
The oil fund and the central bank otherwise follow strict state regulations on travel and entertainment and, it emerged earlier, on gifts. Oil fund employees are constantly the target of eager gift-givers, but none is allowed to accept any gifts in accordance with ethical guidelines.
“Our rules are clear: Employees of the oil fund are not allowed to receive gifts,” Torill K Fjellanger of the fund told DN. “We try to refuse them, but sometimes that can’t be done. Then the gifts are turned in at the office and put in a closet.”
Once a year, the closet is opened and the gifts are raffled off. The money goes to charity. Last year, the gift raffle brought in NOK 24,000, reports DN.
A peek inside the gift closet last month, at the height of gift-giving season, revealed bottles of wine, silk handkerchiefs and even two baseball bats from Kansas City.