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Monday, June 17, 2024

Parliament sharpens expense reporting rules

The president of the Norwegian Parliament, Tone Trøen, is ordering a full evaluation of the regulations for expense account reporting that apply to both Members of Parliament and non-elected employees of the legislative body. The evaulation comes after newspaper Aftenposten revealed how an MP for the Progress Party has been reimbursed for trips he never took.

MP Mazyar Keshvari has admitted to turning in fictional accounts of road trips he in fact never made. He has wrongly demanded and received reimbursement for at least NOK 36,000 (USD 4,500) in fictional expenses, and has turned in undocumented expenses totalling NOK 290,000 over the past two years. It remains unclear how much of that was legitimate.

Keshvari now faces police charges and even a jail term. Progress Party officials have said they’re “shocked” over Keshvari’s illegimate claims, while party leader Siv Jensen, who also serves as Norway’s finance minister, has likened Keshvari’s actions to a betrayal of trust.

The Parliament has conducted an expense reporting system based on trust, in which MPs can turn in expenses for reimbursement without them being approved by any supervisor and often without documentation. Use of private vehicles has especially escaped documentation because expenses are calculated on the basis of distance traveled.

Keshvari’s defense attorney Arve Lønnum said “all the facts” regarding Keshvari’s actual and fictional travel have now been delivered to Parliament. He said he still had no information on Keshvari’s motive for turning in what police say amount to fradulent expense reports. “I can say that he feels terrible, and remains out on sick leave,” Lønnum told Aftenposten on Saturday. staff



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