One of the biggest scandals in the Oslo municipality
The municipal audit will examine the municipal company Boligbygg’s purchase of properties in recent years. The case is already one of the biggest scandals ever in Oslo.
The company’s housing purchase was the only theme discussed in the extraordinary meeting of the control committee in Oslo municipality on Tuesday afternoon. Not unexpectedly, it was decided that the municipal audit must investigate. The municipal audit has itself requested to go through the housing purchases.
– The reason is that we are facing one of the biggest scandals that the city of Oslo has faced for a long time, says the chairman of the control committee, Ola Kvisgaard (Conservatives), to NRK.
The decision implies that also the responsible city council Geir Lippestad (Labour) and the board of the municipal company are going to be examined, according to Nettavisen.
The Economic Police (Økokrim) has already started investigating after Dagens Næringsliv started to look at housing purchases and published a series of articles on the matter. On October 13, the newspaper wrote that Boligbygg has bought property for NOK 222 million from two sellers who have a history of being so-called bankruptcy players. According to the newspaper, the sellers earned NOK 60 million on the trades with the municipality.
Three days later, a consultant who was responsible for purchases on behalf of the Oslo municipality was sentenced by Økokrim for gross economic fraud.
– We take this very seriously and we want to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible. It is obvious that the municipal audit must start investigations, says Kvisgaard.
Clearly been fooled
On Tuesday’s meeting, the Control Committee discussed the guidelines that will form the basis for the investigation. In addition to Økokrim’s investigation, the tax administration is also looking into the matter. The municipality has also hired two audit companies.
– The most important thing is to look at routines, proxies and the violations of law and order that have been in Boligbygg. It is obvious that the municipality has been fooled and that unfaithful servants have done things that are most likely to be criminal and it is quite clear that there are people who have enriched themselves on community and taxpayers’ money, says Kvisgaard to NRK.
Dagens Næringsliv (Today’s Business) has revealed that the price of a townhouse at Bislett increased by NOK 33 million after Boligbygg failed to use their precursory rights on two occasions.
It was Henrik Gjerding (Progress Party) who demanded that extraordinary and expressed the wish that the Local Government Audit Office should examine the matter.
– For a long time we have been critical of the city council’s huge appetite for housing purchases. The recent findings, leading to Økokrim being involved, causes concerns resulting from serious unrest. It is therefore very important that the city council initiates an independent and thorough review through the municipal audit, Gjerding says to Nettavisen.
At an extraordinary board meeting on October 23, City Council Geir Lippestad chose to replace Chairman Jan-Erik Nielsen with Attorney Stig L. Bech to get other type of competence. Additionally the board was expanded with chairman Steinar Maningen in Undervisningsbygg (Educational Buildings). On the same day, the new board decided that the auditing firm Deloitte are to conduct an external, independent review of the property transactions.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today