A wealthy Norwegian businessman who reportedly has a fortune of at least NOK 148 million (around USD 20 million) has been charged by police for supplying authorities with incorrect information regarding contracts for two au pairs from the Philippines who were working in his home. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported they were paid the equivalent of NOK 41 (USD 5.60) an hour, way below what’s considered low wages in Norway.
The infringement of the law has also led Ragnar Horn, whose family has a large stake in the Oslo-based shipbroking company RS Platou, to withdraw his candidacy for a seat on the board of Clarkson-Platou, the new firm that Platou is becoming part of through a merger with Clarkson of London. “I see that I have violated regulations and apologize in the strongest terms,” Horn wrote in a press release cited by DN over the weekend.
Norway only allows residents to employ one au pair as part of what’s supposed to be a cultural exchange. Instead, au pairs in Norway come mostly from the Philippines and have often been exploited as a cheap source of domestic labour for Norwegian families. Not only did Horn have two au pairs working an average of 11 hours a day in his home, he allegedly paid them low wages and they worked much more than the 30 hours a week they’re allowed under the law. Neither received the Norwegian lessons required by law either, according to the charges filed against Horn.
Public tax records show that Horn, whose family owns around 10 percent of RS Platou, earned taxable income of nearly NOK 30 million last year (USD 4.8 million at the time). While his taxable fortune was listed at NOK 147.7 million, magazine Kapital estimated it at NOK 920 million.
Neither Horn nor his lawyer Svein Holden would comment further, pending the results of a police investigation.