A former SMK employee must pay 900,000 to the state after living illegally in a government residence.
For over two years, a former employee of the Prime Minister’s Office (SMK) lived for free in a government residence.
The alarm went off when Aftenposten this summer asked why an employee lived in a rented government housing. This is how SMK discovered that one of their trusted employees had lived there illegally.
The man was sentenced on Tuesday to unconditional imprisonment for 10 months. He was also sentenced to pay 900,000 kroner in compensation to the state, as well as violation of the Firearms Act.
The man has put all the cards on the table and acknowledged gross financial infidelity. The case was therefore decided by a so-called confession judgment in Oslo District Court.
The prosecution filed a claim for one year in prison and more than 940,000 kroner in compensation.
Despite a three-month penalty rebate, the man’s defense attorney, John Christian Elden, asked for an additional rebate and eight months, of which two months were conditional.
– The verdict is noted. It is lower than claimed, but still somewhat high by 10 months. If we see reason to use the anchor right, we must come back to. The most important thing is to finish the case where my client lay completely flat, says Elden to Aftenposten.
Got a new job one month after the confession
During the trial, it emerged that the person in question now works temporarily at Statsbygg. SMK does not own the commuter homes itself, but rents them from Statsbygg.
When SMK reported the man in September, he resigned and immediately resigned. A month later, he was employed by Statsbygg. He is employed as a senior adviser from October to April, according to them.
– In light of the man’s situation and the fact that we had overdue tasks that could be solved by him, we chose to offer a temporary employment for six months, writes communications director Hege Njaa Aschim in Statsbygg in an e-mail.
– He is paid by Statsbygg during that period, she adds.
SMK does not wish to comment on the employment relationship.
– The accused no longer works at SMK. We do not have information about the person’s current working and salary conditions, writes communications manager Anne Kristin Hjukse.
Considering new legal steps
SMK is now considering recovering the part of the compensation claim that is not covered by the judgment. The total claim for compensation was just over NOK 1.2 million.
In that case, it will be around 300,000 kroner.
– The claim is related to the rental expenses SMK has had for the commuter apartment the person in question rented and lived in without a permit. SMK’s claim for compensation is higher than what the prosecutor has claimed in the case, Hjukse points out.
The man’s defender, John Christian Elden, responds that SMK is considering further steps.
– SMK should be satisfied with the judgment as it is handed down in terms of compensation. Such an important institution rarely benefits from being petty or law-abiding towards individuals, says Elden.
Moved in with family
The convicted person lived permanently in one of the apartments SMK rents for ministers and others in political leadership from August 2018 to March 2021. During the trial, it emerged that he also lived sporadically in the home from the spring of 2017.
SMK rented the apartment from Frogner House Apartments. It was a furnished three-room apartment of 45-50 square meters in Oslo west with a high standard. That is the reason why the confiscation amount is as high as just over 940,000 kroner.
SMK even reported the man to the police. This happened in the wake of a request for access from Aftenposten last summer.
Aftenposten discovered upon reviewing the documents that one of the commuter flats was apparently empty, but that SMK still had to pay for it. But the apartment was not empty. The SMK employee lived there himself. He has also lived there for periods with family members.
For two years and seven months, SMK paid hundreds of thousands in rent for an apartment, without understanding that it had been used by one of their own employees.