26 September 2023

NORWAY: Minister quits over conflict of interest

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The Norwegian Government has been hit by its second conflict-of-interest scandal in a week after Minister for Culture and Equality, Anette Trettebergstuen announced her resignation.

In a tearful press conference Ms Trettebergstuen (pictured) said she was sorry her mistakes also affected others “all the fantastic people in the fields of culture and equality, my colleagues in the Government and everyone else I’ve disappointed”.

Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre said Ms Trettebergstuen had on several occasions proposed and appointed good friends to boards and other Public Service posts tied to her Ministerial portfolio.

“She has broken the rules and exhibited a lack of knowledge about the rules and what it means to be impartial,” Mr Støre said.

Earlier in the week Mr Støre’s Minister for Education, Tonje Brenna had to admit to several conflicts of interest herself regarding appointments of friends to official posts.

Ms Brenna did not resign and Mr Støre said he still had confidence in her as the Parliament launched an investigation into her case.

The Prime Minister claimed that Ms Brenna’s conflicts of interest were not in the same order of magnitude as those of Ms Trettebergstuen.

Mr Støre was repeatedly questioned about why two of his Ministers had apparently lacked basic knowledge about conflicts of interest.

“Ministers receive instructions, undergo reviews with their staff on any potential conflicts, are given a manual about the issues involved and must take personal responsibility themselves,” Mr Støre said.

Ms Trettebergstuen admitted she had not examined the rules carefully enough, and had lost her job because of it.

A number of people appointed by Ms Trettebergstuen, who had links to her, are now likely to be dismissed as their appointments are considered invalid.

Oslo, 27 June 2023

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