UPDATED: Prosecutors were seeking ongoing custody on Friday for at least five of the 18 suspects initially arrested this week in a crackdown on alleged economic crime within the transport and cleaning sectors in and around Oslo. Three more arrests were made after the initial raids on Monday and six of the defendants were ordered held in custody.
More than 200 police and officials from Norway’s state tax and social welfare agencies took part in the raids. They believe the homes and offices raided, mostly tied to the messenger service and cleaning sectors, have carried out aggravated, organized economic crime from tax evasion to welfare and loan fraud.
“We believe we have identified a large number of forged identities, where people operating with false documents have taken up large loans, launched companies and made large purchases,” Håvar Undeland of state police unit Kripos told news bureau NTB. That in turn led to ill-gotten gains on false premises, with the alleged network raking in as much as NOK 1 million a week.
Police suspect five to six of those arrested as being the main organizers of the alleged criminal network. They include both Norwegians and foreign citizens, most of whom have ethnic background from Sri Lanka. Those arrested are aged 20 to 45 and live in both Oslo and Romerike, northeast of the city.