State prosecutor to probe Transocean case

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After conducting an 11-year investigation, suffering a court defeat and enduring criticism from the state prosecutor’s office (Riksadvokaten), Norway’s white-collar crime unit (Økokrim) dropped a massive case last week against drilling rig company Transocean. Now the state prosecutor himself plans to investigate the entire Transocean case, which many observers claim has turned into an enormous public scandal.

There’s no question Økokrim has suffered a huge loss of prestige over its handling of the Transocean case and now it faces major compensation claims from all the defendants cleared by a local court. It’s important that Norway has a respected and well-function financial watchdog agency like Økokrim, so the state prosecutor now intends to examine how Økokrim handled the case and its own role as well. Critics claim state prosecutor Tor-Aksel Busch should have involved himself in the case at a much earlier point.

Økokrim’s own embattled boss, Trond Eirik Schea, had asked Busch and his team to probe Økokrim’s methodology and conduct. Schea already has apologized to defendants cleared by the court and dropped an appeal.

Busch told reporters at a press briefing earlier this week that “perhaps we can all learn something” from the Transocean case, which involved serious tax evasion charges that ultimately were rejected by the court. Morten Eriksen, Økokrim’s chief prosecutor, was taken off the case.

“A thorough investigation of the case is the best thing that can happen now,” Eriksen told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) in a text message on Tuesday. “I look forward to it.” He cited a need to “go through all sides” of the complex case, and regretted he couldn’t comment further.

newsinenglish.no staff