The leader of the controversial anti-racism organization SOS Rasisme in Norway has been arrested and charged with fraud mounting to as much as NOK 15 million (USD 2.5 million). The organization itself has been convicted of fraud earlier, for manipulating membership numbers in an effort to receive more public support.
Newssite Dagbladet reported that SOS Rasisme leader Kjell Gunnar Larsen, age 57, was arrested at his home in Haugesund Monday morning. Larsen has been the leader of SOS Rasisme and responsible for its finances for many years.
Prosecutor Hallvard Bjørndal told Dagbladet that the organization had been under investigation, suspected of economic irregularities. Larsen has been charged for alleged embezzlement, whitewashing of money and other acts of fraud.
Larsen faced a custody hearing on Tuesday, at which his defense attorney said he would deny the charges against him. His partner was also arrested but later released.
SOS Rasisme was convicted in 2011 and 2012 of manipulating membership counts in a bid to receive more state funding. The organization was ordered to repay NOK 9.7 million to a national youth organization (Landsrådet for Norges Barns- og undomsorganisjoner, LNU) and NOK 6.8 million to the state government ministry in charge of children’s and family matters. The organization was declared bankrupt last year.