City politician fends off corruption charges in Bergen

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Police in Bergen have charged Jan Sverre Stray, a member of the Bergen city legislature (bystyret) for the Conservative Party, with corruption along with two local businessmen. Police continue to investigate the nature of money that they claim “passed between” Stray and the businessmen.

Such cases of alleged bribery are relatively rare in Norway and it’s also seldom that those charged are publicly identified. In this case, Bergen Mayor Trude Drevland, who’s also from the Conservative Party, decided to go public with his identity “because we are one of his employers, because the case has attracted a lot of attention and because of consideration for the 67 others in the legislature.”

Stray has denied any wrongdoing and was said to be taking the charges against him extremely seriously. “He thinks these accusations are terrible,” his defense attorney told newspaper Dagsavisen on Monday. Stray was arrested last week and is being held in custody for four weeks, as are the two businessmen, while police continue to investigate the case against them.

The two businessmen, who for years had been trying to  rezone some property in Bergen, have also denied guilt. Police say they’re continuing to investigate links between the money, Stray’s alleged search for sponsor income for a family-owned business venture and the businessmen’s zoning case.

Fellow politicians in Bergen had reported the case to police themselves, after what they call an unusual swirl of speculation and rumours regarding the rezoning. Prime Minister-elect Erna Solberg, who also is a member of the Conservative Party from Bergen, told newspaper VG she had been oriented about the case last week. staff