Farmer, co-op worker accused of fraud

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An employee of Norway’s largest cooperative for producers of fruit and vegetables, Gartnerhallen, has admitted to gross misappropriation of funds and testified that he transferred nearly NOK 50 million to a farmer in Hedmark. The farmer claims he received the money as loans, and that it amounted to NOK 18 million, not NOK 50 million.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that Gartnerhallen officials themselves reported the case of misappropriation to Norway’s white-collar crime unit Økokrim. The Gartnerhallen employee confessed to the money transfers in late May, after the co-op’s accountants had started raising questions about suspicious transactions.

Both the Gartnerhallen employee and the 44-year-old farmer, who reportedly have no relation to one another, have been jailed for at least two weeks while Økokrim continues its investigation. The farmer testified at his custody hearing that because of economic difficulty, he had been unable to obtain ordinary bank loans.

DN reported that the farmer’s defense attorney acknowledged the loans in court but claimed his client was unaware the Garnerhallen employee was exceeding his authority in making the loans. The farmer claims the loans were used to finance farm operations, while Økokrim investigators claim some of the money was spent on expensive cars, an apartment in Sweden and remodeling of the farmer’s home.

newsinenglish.no staff