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Monday, June 24, 2024

Ex-premier’s spouse shares his shares

Sindre Finnes, husband of former Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg, is still in a heap of trouble over his extensive stock trading that subjected his wife to potential conflicts of interest. Now he’s sent a 224-page list of all his transactions to a parliamentary committee charged with evaluating how they could have jeopardized Solberg’s work and position.

Sindre Finnes was earlier viewed as a great source of support for his wife and her political career that led to two terms as Norway’s prime minister. It turns out that he secretly bought and sold shares in Norwegian companies throughout both terms, landing her in potential conflicts of interest. PHOTO: Høyre

Finnes and his lawyer, Thomas Skjelbred, turned over a list of of 3,290 stock transactions (350 less than what he and Solberg had earlier reported) to the Parliament’s disciplinary and control committee just before the weekend. Now the committee needs to sort them all out, and determine whether his buying and selling of stock in Norwegian companies created conflicts of interest for his wife.

“We’ll need some time to go through all this,” Grunde Almeland of the Liberal Party told news bureau NTB. Almeland leads the committee’s probe of not only Finnes’ stock trading but also that of Foreign Minister Anniken Huiteldt’s husband Ola Petter Flem, who invested behind his wife’ back, too. Another former government minister and Member of Parliament, Ola Borten Moe, invested himself and had to resign last summer. The committee is also investigating other conflicts of interest regarding two more government ministers, Tonje Brenna and Anette Trettebergstuen. The latter also resigned but Brenna and Huitfeldt are hanging on.

For Solberg, her husband’s active share trading could force her to resign as leader of Norway’s Conservative Party and candidate for prime minister in the 2025 election. She’s still hanging on in the meantime.

“I have registered that Sindre has sent over an updated list (of his trading) to the Parliament’s control committee, which also includes the (monetary) amounts he has traded for,” Solberg wrote in a text message to NTB. “This was requested both by individual committee members and many in the meda, and I think it’s good that he shares it.”

Speculation continues to fly over what motivated Finnes to secretly trade shares (earning NOK 1.8 million in the process) when he knew it could create conflicts of interest and even ruin his wife’s long political career. He has issued written apologies but is otherwise trying to stay out of the spotlight. He did not provide the actual timing of all his investments, though, generating more criticism from opposition parties.

The parliamentary committee, meanwhile, will meet early this week to discuss how they’ll proceed. Almeland has stressed a need for full openness in what’s amounted to a major political scandal. Berglund



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