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Friday, April 12, 2024

Ex-Kongsberg boss appeals jail term

A former sales director at state-owned Kongsberg Gruppen was sentenced on Wednesday to four-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted on charges of tax evasion, money laundering and misappropriation of funds amounting to more than NOK 50 million. Dag Tore Sekkelsten, who was responsible for Kongsberg’s sales to Romania, filed an immediate appeal.

“Sekkelsten is extremely upset by the sentence,” his defense attorney, Christian Hjort, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “Even though he’s glad the court didn’t find any basis for large portions of the fraud indictment, he reacted strongly to how the evidence was evaluated for the portion on which he was convicted. He will therefore appeal the sentence.”

The court based its conviction and prison term, two years of which were suspended, on fraud charges amounting to much less than what prosecutors had presented. Prosecutors at Norway’s economic crimes unit Økokrim argued the amount was more than NOK 200 million.

Hjort said the court viewed some of his client’s actions as being carried out in the interests of Kongsberg itself and not for personal gain. “Sekkelsten maintains that he also acted in Kongsberg’s interests in the portions of the indictment for which he’s convicted,” Hjort added.

Sekkelsten spoke publicly for the first time when his trial began in August, calling the entire case against him “both unreal and extremely unfair.” He characterized himself as loyal to Kongsberg, which he claimed had not emphasized compliance and anti-corruption efforts nor offered any guidelines for its sales force.

He was indicted for having created fictional consultants’ contracts and over-priced contracts with suppliers tied to contracts with public sector institutions in Romania. Kongsberg won contracts that were worth NOK 1.4 billion during Sekkelsten’s leadership from 1999 to 2008.

The court also ordered seizure of assets from Sekkelsten worth NOK 14.7 million. Prosecutors had earlier dropped charges against the company itself, in which the Norwegian state is a major shareholder, and opted to indict Sekkelsten instead. Kongsberg fired Sekkelsten after he was indicted. Former top Kongsberg executives were, however, harshly criticized in Parliament for failing to pass on suspicions of corruption before the company was first raided in 2014, and have since retired or resigned. staff



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