Jo Lunder, once one of Norway’s most successful young executives, is now demanding compensation from the Norwegian state after the country’s white-collar crime unit Økokrim dropped a corruption case against him. Lunder claims his career and reputation have been ruined, and he wants NOK 529 million (USD 66 million) to cover his losses.
Lunder’s claim is already being called “historic,” because no has ever demanded so much compensation in Norway before. He actually has filed two claims, one for around NOK 89 million for what he claims are actual losses. The other is for NOK 440 million to compensate him for future losses.
Lunder’s lawyer in Oslo, Cato Schiøtz, told reporters that Lunder’s alleged losses cover both the time he was arrested, charged and under investigation in the case that involved the Russian- and Norwegian-owned mobile phone firm VimpelCom’s payment of bribes in order to do business in Uzbekistan. Lunder was a former star at Telenor, long a part-owner of VimpelCom, before he was named chief executive of VimpelCom itself.
The company ended up admitting last year to bribery, 18 months after Lunder had left VimpelCom and then started working in a highly paid position in London for Norwegian shipowner John Fredriksen. Just months later, in 2015, Lunder was arrested, briefly held in custody and under suspicion until charges were dropped late last year for lack of evidence. Lunder has claimed his own innocence in the case all along.
Now he’s moving forward with a claim for compensation, the size of which is breaking all Norwegian records. Schiøtz readily admitted the claim is large because of Lunder’s “considerable losses,” and had warned the size of it would “be quite un-Norwegian.” Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported on Wednesday that the highest compensation claim ever paid in Norway, as a result of a case being dropped for lack of evidence, is NOK 29 million.
Schiøtz justifies the NOK 529 million by claiming in a press release from the Oslo firm that “Jo Lunder was an established international top leader with a high income level compared to conditions in Norway (where executive pay is much lower than it is in the UK or US, for example).” Two separate experts on executive pay came up with the compensation figures, based on the pay Lunder lost after feeling forced to resign from Fredriksen’s team while his case was under investigation, and based on what he likely could have earned over the course of his career that Lunder is now trying to rebuild.
He declined to elaborate much on his case, writing in a message to DN that he had turned over his compensation claim “to my lawyers and accountants.” Lunder wrote that he had no comment beyond what was in the press release, and wanted his case to be considered in accordance with Norwegian rules for compensation. “I’d rather spend my time now re-establishing myself in Norwegian business,” Lunder wrote.
He told state broadcaster NRK last year, after the case against him was dropped, that he was “not angry, not bitter,” and instead just felt a sense of “emptiness” after his ordeal. He also remarked that “I spent 30 years building things up,” and that all his efforts were in ruins.
An official at the economic crimes unit Økokrim confirmed it had received Lunder’s compensation claim, which will be handled by a state commission charged with such matters (Statens sivilrettsforvaltning).