Monday, January 17

Tangen did not inform about Støre dinner: – Invited by virtue of being a friend

The Petroleum Fund has a practice of being open with the Ministry of Finance about meetings with elected representatives. But Nicolai Tangen did not report on the dinner with the then opposition leader Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party), where Norges Bank and Jens Stoltenberg became the topic, because he considered it a private dinner.

DINNER GUEST: Nicolai Tangen thinks that he did not need to tell about the dinner with Jonas Gahr Støre, because he thinks it was private.

Published: Published:

On Monday could TV2 tell that the then opposition leader Jonas Gahr Støre (Labor Party) in May met oil fund manager Nicolai Tangen at a dinner with their mutual friend, Knut Brundtland, son of former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland (Labor Party).

At the dinner, Tangen mentioned that Jens Stoltenberg would be a qualified candidate for the job as the new head of Norges Bank, the day Øystein Olsen resigned.

Støre says he refused to discuss this, because in that case he would be incompetent towards Stoltenberg because of their many years of political and personal friendship.

According to the Petroleum Fund, Petroleum Fund Manager Nicolai Tangen will normally not have meetings with elected bodies without the Minister of Finance being informed and given opportunity to participate.

OLD FRIENDS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on a walk.

“In line with established practice, the Oil Fund Manager has not met with elected bodies without the Minister of Finance being informed and given the opportunity to be present. Inquiries from the Storting and elected representatives or candidates for elected positions to us shall normally take place through the Ministry of Finance “, wrote Tangen’s personal assistant last year when they rejected Conservative invitation to contribute to the party’s program process.

Tangen did not inform the Ministry of Finance about the dinner, because he thinks it was private.

– Knut invited me to dinner by virtue of being a friend of his, not by virtue of my job as oil fund manager, Tangen writes in an e-mail to VG via press officer Line Aaltvedt.

She says that the practice applies to meetings through work, not privately.

RAU’S FRIEND: Knut Brundtland has previously called Nicolai Tangen a Renaissance man, when he was to describe his friend Tangen after the much-discussed US seminar in Philadelphia in 2019.

– Should be informed

Therese Riiser, head of communications at the Ministry of Finance, writes in an e-mail that they also do not think it was natural to inform about the meeting with the Labor leader, because the dinner was private.

SV’s Kari Elisabeth Kaski, the Liberal Party’s Sveinung Rotevatn and Rødt’s Marie Sneve Martinussen strongly disagree.

They believe that the Ministry of Finance should have been informed.

– It is good that Tangen has a dialogue with politicians, but it should happen in open country and the ministry as chief executive should be informed, Kaski says to VG.

Via his state secretary Tale Jordbakke, Støre says that he considered this a private dinner through a mutual friend.

NOT SATISFIED: Kari Elisabeth Kaski believes that Nicolai Tangen should have shown better judgment.

Old friends

Liberal Party deputy leader Sveinung Rotevatn believes the themes of the dinner make it look like a working dinner, not a purely private event.

Støre has previously stated that this was the first time he met Tangen and that it was interesting to hear the oil fund manager’s reflections.

During the conversation in May, they discussed geopolitics, international economics and Norges Bank’s role in the world:

– Nicolai Tangen mentions that the job as central bank governor requires geopolitical insight and that Jens Stoltenberg will therefore have the qualifications needed, Støre said on Wednesday.

The other applicant is Deputy Governor Ida Wolden Bache.

CRITICAL: Liberal deputy Sveinung Rotevatn has been skeptical of Jens Stoltenberg as the new central bank governor for a long time.

To Aftenposten, Støre says that the conversation with Tangen was natural to apply for him as a parliamentary representative.

Based on Støre’s descriptions of the dinner, Rotevatn believes that this was a meeting that was to take place via the ministry.

– In practice, it looks like a working dinner, says Rotevatn.

He says that it is important that all parties have equal access to information from the ministries.

– It is problematic if one circumvents the practice of openness, transparency by having meetings over a private dinner. It will be messy and contribute to weakening confidence in the administration, says Rotevatn.

He will not say whether they have circumvented the intentions behind the practice.

– In any case, it is not common practice. It is a rather unusual form of meeting between the opposition leader and the head of the oil fund. Støre should understand that, he says.

IN THE OFFICE: Nicolai Tangen met VG in the office of the Petroleum Fund after he got the job.

– Demonstrated poor judgment

Kaski emphasizes that the employer should not log everything you do privately, but that meetings with powerful politicians should ring some bells.

– We can not know exactly what has been said or taken place at the dinner, but if he has expressed clear opinions about who should be the new central bank governor, then he has shown poor judgment, Kaski says.

Rødt’s Marie Sneve Martinussen says that she gets a bad taste in her mouth from the Tangen appointment and Stoltenberg’s candidacy.

– As an oil fund manager and prime minister, you should be allowed to associate with your friends, but as your friend also happens to invite a potential new prime minister, it is no longer a purely private affair, he says.

Tangen informs VG that he has not had other dinners with elected representatives or Norwegian community leaders where Jens Stoltenberg’s candidacy has been a theme.

Neither Jonas Gahr Støre nor Nicolai Tangen want to comment on the criticism further.

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