The Oslo-based Pareto group of investment firms nearly doubled its pre-tax profits last year, and bonus payments to employees have surpassed NOK 2.1 billion over the past five years. Just as the latest numbers were rolled out this week though, a court case in Oslo revealed that not even Pareto is immune from fraudulent customers.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that former investor Christian Fredrik Aarnes admitted in the Oslo City Court this week that he defrauded Pareto and several other securities firms, generating losses for them all, on a variety of investment deals. Årnes, age 29, is charged with presenting false accounts, forging documents and incurring a loss of NOK 340,000 for Pareto and millions for other firms. He testified in court on Monday that he bought and sold shares through Pareto while drunk. Aarnes has admitted to transactions that led to losses of more than NOK 40 million for five securities firms.
The Pareto group otherwise can claim another record year, with revenues up 33 percent, operating profits up 25.3 percent and pre-tax profits up 70.4 percent in 2013. “We are quite satisfied,” Pareto founder Svein Støle told DN. He attributed the strong results to a good market for commercial paper and increased internationalization. “A steadily increasing portion of our income comes from international customers,” Støle told DN.
The firm he started with some fellow brokers in 1992 has grown to become one of the world’s biggest within the oil, oil service, exploration and shipping industries. Pareto now has more than 300 employees in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, the US, Singapore and Brazil. Pareto also is opening offices this year in Los Angeles and in Australia and Canada.
Støle still owns 86.4 percent of Pareto Gruppen, which in turn owns 75 percent of Pareto Securities. The rest is owned by, among others, Ole Henrik Bjørge, who also serves as chief executive.