African Press International (API)

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A Norwegian political party accused of tax evation

Posted by African Press International on September 5, 2007

Confusion was running high Friday afternoon, after the Progress Party finally released a statement responding to charges that it had failed to fully report taxable income. The party, however, quickly sent a second “corrected” statement leaving out all the actual money figures, and then refused to answer questions.

Progress Party leader Siv Jensen was under pressure to reveal the tax office claim.

PHOTO: TOR ERIK SCHRDER / SCANPIX

The party, which only released the statements after pressure from political rivals, first said it may owe as much as NOK 700,000 in back taxes and penalties. Party officials, however, dont agree with the Oslo Tax Office’s claim that they failed to report as much as NOK 2.7 million in taxable payments made on behalf of party politicians.

That’s the reason the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) is giving for its initial decision to withhold a report from the tax office. Party leader Siv Jensen said the party always intended to publicize the tax authorities’ conclusion, but not until the party’s appeal had been heard and the case settled.

More cynical observers, not least including rival parties, noted that would have allowed the party to delay release of the report on taxes owed until after the September 10 election.

Jensen apparently gave in to pressure to reveal the tax authorities’ demands. But then the first press release, containing the amount of alleged tax evasion, was replaced with a new version in which the amount was left out.

Tax authorities claim the party underreported taxable income connected to a trip that the party’s members of parliament took to northern Norway, transport of the politicians’ spouses to various arrangements, and use of mobile telephones.

The initial statement from the party said there “should be no doubt” that the party members involved would pay any taxes owed, and that the party “would clean up after itself.”

The tax demands on the Progress Party closely follow tax evasion admitted by the mayor of Oslo. He resigned, and his party, the Conservatives, took a dive in public opinion polls.

By Nina Berglund

Lifted and published by Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenposteneng

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