Norway’s oldest publishing house has admitted it fell victim to two separate embezzlement cases during the same period. On Friday it emerged that a woman who’d already been convicted six times for embezzlement was hired by Aschehoug, and stole hundreds of thousands at the same time Aschehoug’s former financial executive director was funneling millions from the company.
The 48-year-old woman was hired as a temporary worker through employment agency, Visma, and was given a permanent job in the accounting department in December 2011. She embezzled NOK 671,374 (USD 109,000) over an 11 month period. She was convicted of 17 counts of gross breach of trust last year, and sentenced to eight months imprisonment with three months suspended. She was ordered to pay back the entire amount, and put on probation for two years reported newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN).
Aschehoug Publishing Manager Mads Nygaard said the woman was first hired through a “serious and prestigious” staffing agency, and he had no idea about her six prior embezzlement convictions and prison time. “The individual was checked at Visma, who informed that her references were in order, and we saw no reason to doubt that,” said Nygaard. “In retrospect it’s obvious we wish we had done more than rely on our reference and our own experience with her so far.”
Earlier this week it was revealed Aschehoug’s finance director Marius Schatvet had embezzled NOK 4.4 million from the company over a three year period. His fraud was revealed in December when he was caught trying to steal a further NOK 1 million. While Nygaard said there’s no reason to believe the two had collaborated to swindle the company, Oslo Police’s financial and environmental crime director Gro Smogeli said the concurrent embezzlement does not look good.