Sunday, May 22

Liadal and Oslo District Court convicted of fraud go hard on the Storting

The Storting receives harsh criticism in the verdict against former Labor Party representative Hege Haukeland Liadal. Liadal shares the view. – The Storting’s administration must have routines and rules for detecting errors, she tells Aftenposten.

Hege Haukeland Liadal in Oslo District Court on Friday morning.

On Friday, Liadal was in Oslo District Court where, she had the verdict read out. In it it became clear that she feels guilty of gross fraud. The court found it proved that she had been wrongly paid for 56 of 61 travel bills.

The sentence is set at seven months in prison, compensation of 99,000 kroner. She must pay legal costs of 30,000 kroner.

Aftenposten revealed in April 2019 that Liadal had delivered fictitious travel invoices. The Storting reviewed Liadal. Afterwards, the police started an investigation.

Both Liadal and the prosecution will now consider whether to appeal. The judgment is thus not final.

State Attorney Monica Kragh Pettersen interprets the verdict as meaning that the court also believes that Liadal has abused his trust as a parliamentary representative.

“In reality no control over travel”

There was strong criticism of the Storting’s administration in the verdict read out by Judge Steinar Backe.

The court finds it calls an inadequate control regime that provides wide access to abuse:

There is in reality no control over the journeys, it is stated in the judgment.

To Aftenposten, Liadal, who has now been convicted of stating incorrect travel invoices shortly after the trips have taken place and through an app the court believes is easy to use, says that she supports the criticism of the Storting.

– You get different answers when you ask one question

Hege Haukeland Liadal before the verdict fell on Friday.

Liadal has always acknowledged that there have been errors in many of her travel expenses, but has believed that this was not done on purpose.

– I have received help that indicates some of the mistakes, and I have done everything in good faith of what has been wrong. I have not been believed in all the cases, and I think I’m sorry.

– The Storting was severely reprimanded in court for lack of control. Do you recognize yourself in it?

– Yes. There are many who work with travel expenses in the Storting, and you get different answers when you ask one question. It creates doubt, and it makes you often ask when you come up in situations you do not quite know how to solve. It is difficult when, for example, private days are squeezed into either business trips or commuter trips. I have conducted this to the best of my ability and in the way I have been told, says Liadal.

Liadal says she delivered a total of 753 travel bills during the eight years she represented Rogaland in the Storting.

She believes the Storting’s administration “must ensure that it has routines and rules for travel expenses and be able to detect errors”.

– It seems to me strange that errors are not detected when two people are sitting and certifying the travel expenses. I do not blame the two, but I am surprised that there is no larger safety net that ensures that the representatives of the Storting do things right, she says.

The Storting rejects the criticism

The Director of the Storting, Marianne Andreassen, responds to e-mails via the communication department:

– The Storting’s administration maintains control of all travel expenses and reimbursement of expenses, and has a dialogue with representatives where the cost coverage is incorrect or without authority for coverage. The administration does not recognize itself in Liadal’s description of how the administration works. Important changes were made to the regulations related to travel expenses in 2019, which include further control and requirements for better documentation.

Liadal is not surprised

Liadal remained calm, but shook his head slightly when the verdict and sentencing were read out. She took notes along the way, as the judge read out the various records.

– Are you surprised by the verdict?

– I’m not surprised, but I’m sorry. I have been realistic considering that this could have many outcomes. As I have said all along: Yes, there are errors in some of my 753 travel expenses. But I have never done it on purpose, Liadal told Aftenposten after the court was lifted.

Her lawyer, lawyer Erik Lea, says he will now read the entire verdict before advising his client on the question of appealing the question of guilt, sentencing or all.

– If I were to advise her to appeal, the second question is whether she can stand it. I would then assume that one may not get the case up in the Court of Appeal until over the summer. Now she has been doing this for almost three years, and it is a burden to go and wait, says Lea.

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