A former art trader testified in an Oslo courtroom on Thursday that he acted as a money courier several times for wealthy Norwegian industrialist Kjell Inge Røkke. Per Orveland, who lived with Røkke’s ex-wife at the time, allegedly delivered cash from Røkke to a man who’s now accused of threatening Røkke because he wanted more money.
The extortion case against Jan Erik “Jannik” Iversen continued for the third day, with Orveland contradicting Røkke’s own testimony earlier that he never hired Iversen for any purpose nor did he pay out money to him. Orveland claimed he was given “bags of money” from Røkke to hand over to Iversen.
“Kjell Inge told me had some problems with Jannik,” state broadcaster NRK reported Orveland as testifying. “He said he should pay him some money but that he couldn’t be seen together with him (Jannik). So he asked me to please take the money and get it to Jannik.” According to Orveland, he arranged money transfers between Røkke and Jannik for three years, from 2005 to 2008, always in cash carried in shopping bags.
At one point, he testified, Røkke asked him to ask Iversen to get himself a safety deposit box in London, “because he (Røkke) had money in England and Iversen could get it there when it suited him.” Orveland testified that he didn’t know why Røkke was making payments to Iversen, and he didn’t ask. Orveland has also been accused of trying to claim money from Røkke, with Røkke’s son Kristian Monsen Røkke testifying that Iversen and Orveland acted as a team to try to get money out of the Røkke family.
The trial, which has been commanding lots of media coverage, is due to conclude on Friday. Eva Grinde, a commentator in newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), wrote on Thursday that the case boils down to “two versions of reality: ‘Orverud and Iversen as unscrupulous gold diggers’ versus ‘Kjell Inge Røkke who used and paid them to carry out shady assignments.’ The problem is that both can be true.”