Shamed MP apologizes

Bookmark and Share

Mazyar Keshvari of the conservative Progress Party was back at work in the Norwegian Parliament this week, two months after he went out on sick leave when it was revealed he’d received reimbursement for fraudulent travel expenses. He apologized for his “mistakes” to his “family, colleagues, the Parliament as an institution and the Norwegian people.”

Progress Party politician Mazyar Keshvari, shown here addressing Parliament on an earlier occasion, admitted he was “very nervous” and “shameful” as he returned to Parliament this week. He still faces questioning by police over charges of submitting fraudulent travel expenses. PHOTO: Fremskrittspartiet

Newspaper Aftenposten, which has been publishing a series of stories this autumn that reveal MPs’ fraudlent or questionable use of taxpayer money, revealed in October that Keshvari had claimed at least NOK 36,000 for trips he never took. He also claimed reimbursement for as much as NOK 116,000 for alleged visits to Progress Party chapters that he never made.

All told, Keshvari has submitted claims for NOK 290,000 worth of undocumented trips. It’s still not clear how much of that was legitimate, as an investigation continues.

He’s been charged with fraud and faces more questioning by police in January. Their investigation was interrupted when Keshvari became the latest MP to claim sick leave because of problems on the job. Commentators have noted a near “epidemic” this year after several MPs from various parties became entangled in “MeToo” allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct, or were suffering anguish over internal party turmoil.

In Keshvari’s case, the charges are serious and can lead to jail time. He has made a full confession, which can soften any punishment, and issued a statement earlier this week in which he wrote that he was “very sad” and “deeply regretted” his actions, and wanted to “apologize in the strongest of terms.” He claimed that “it pains me greatly that I have, through my wrongful actions, put my family, colleagues and my elected position as a Member of Parliament in embarrassing difficulty, and not shown myself worthy of the confidence I have received.”

He claimed he had been through a period of personal, unspecified difficulties: “Unfortunately I let things go much too far, as a result of a string of personal tragedies and great challenges in life. This is in no means any excuse for the mistakes I’ve made, but an explanation as to how things could go so wrong as they did.”

Keshvari, who has declined interviews, wrote that it was important for him now “to acknowledge the mistakes I’ve made, contribute towards clarifying the extent of them, and start the process of repaying the amounts I illegally received, to make up for it.”

The Progress Party confirmed that Keshvari will no longer be allowed to serve on the Parliament’s disciplinary committee and will be transferred to a new committee after new year. “It’s natural that he shifts committees,” the leader of the party’s delegation in Parliament, Hans Andreas Limi, told news bureau NTB.

As an elected official, Keshvari is obligated to serve and can’t immediately be removed from office either, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. He said he both looked forward to getting back to work but also dreaded it, admitting that he was “very nervous, shameful and worried about what awaits me.” Berglund