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Tobacco heir is Norway’s wealthiest

An investor who’s heir to a family tobacco fortune was ranked as having the largest personal net worth in Norway after state tax lists were made public on Wednesday. A relatively unknown energy trader from Grimstad had the highest income, and the foreign minister is by far the wealthiest member of the Norwegian government.

Investor Johan Andresen ranks as Norway's wealthiest taxpayer. PHOTO:

These were among details emerging in the Norwegian media on Wednesday, as journalists pored over the tax rolls published by the Norwegian Tax Administration (Skatteetaten). There were some surprises, but many of the names and faces ranking high on the fortune list were familiar.

Businessman and investor Johan H Andresen Jr, heir to the old Tiedemanns tobacco business, topped the list with a personal fortune of NOK 10.3 billion (USD 1.7 billion). The 49-year-old Andresen, who now runs investment company Ferd that owns a variety of businesses, paid NOK 117.7 million in taxes in 2009 but listed only a realtively modest income of NOK 15 million.

Shipowner and investor John Fredriksen continues to be considered the weathiest Norwegian in the world, but he officially moved to Cyprus and no longer pays personal taxes to Norway.

The next two wealthiest residents of Norway were listed as industrialist Kjell Inge Røkke, with a reported net worth of NOK 8.1 billion, and real estate investor Olav Thon, with a fortune listed at NOK 5.6 billion.

The person listed with the highest taxable income in Norway was 39-year-old Einar Aas, who earned NOK 339 million and paid NOK 105 million in taxes. Aas keeps a low profile from his home base in Grimstad on Norway’s southern coast, but he has figured among the top earners and taxpayers in Norway for years. He reportedly built up his fortune through the trading firm Kraftinvest and has been active on the energy bourse Nord Pool.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre paid nearly as much tax as he earned in his highly demanding government role. PHOTO: Arbeiderpartiet

Among Norway’s government leaders, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre emerged as having the largest personal fortune of NOK 39.4 million, stemming from the sale of a family business in the 1970s. Støre paid nearly as much in taxes, NOK 931,816, as he earns as foreign minister. His total reported earnings amounted to NOK 1.3 million.

Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, whose family runs a fish farming business, ranked second in terms of personal net worth among the government ministers with a reported fortune of NOK 19.6 million. Eleven ministers listed taxable net worth of zero, including Finance Minister Sigbjørn Johnsen, who earned NOK 1.39 million and paid NOK 618,145 in taxes.

Defense Minister Grete Faremo paid the most taxes among her government colleagues, NOK 1.3 million, apparently because of her earlier roles as a director of Microsoft in Europe and seats on various boards of directors. Her total income last year, including earnings before she joined the government last last autumn, amounted to NOK 2.8 million and she reported her net worth as NOK 652,092.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg declared income of NOK 1.28 million, zero in taxable net worth and taxes paid of NOK 566,329.

Norway’s tax rolls can be searched here (external link, in Norwegian).

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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