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Husband of Norway's ex-PM avoids police investigation over stock trades

Former prime minister of Norway Erna Solberg participates in the Global Citizen NOW conference in New York, Friday, April 28, 2023.
Former prime minister of Norway Erna Solberg participates in the Global Citizen NOW conference in New York, Friday, April 28, 2023. Copyright AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Copyright AP Photo/Seth Wenig
By AP
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The husband of Norway's former prime minister Erna Solberg will not face investigation over his stock trading during her two terms in office, Norwegian police announced Friday. He had been suspected of benefitting from inside information.

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Solberg, who was prime minister from 2013 to 2021, has faced intense political and media pressure because of the trading of her husband, Sindre Finnes, who made more than 3,600 share deals.

Pål K. Lønseth, head of Norway’s economic crime unit, known by its Norwegian name Økokrim, said its task had been to assess whether Finnes had received inside information “either from Solberg or other sources, and whether there is evidence that he has used such information in his investments”.

“We have found no indications of that,” Lønseth said.

Solberg, who has led Norway’s centre-right party Hoeyre since 2004, has repeatedly said she wants to be the conservative prime ministerial candidate at the 2025 general election. However, it is up to the party to decide, she said.

In September, it was revealed that the husbands of Solberg and former foreign minister Anniken Huitfeldt had been trading in stocks for years behind their backs. 

Both had to explain why they were making decisions in office that could potentially enrich their spouses.

In a statement issued through his lawyer, Finnes admitted he lied to Solberg about his trades but he said he never acted on inside information, which would have been a criminal offence.

On Friday, his lawyer, Thomas Skjelbred, said Økokrim's decision made it clear that his client “has conducted completely legal trading in shares.”

Huitfeldt was replaced as part of a government reshuffle last month. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said she was sacked because of “the matter of the purchase and sale of shares.”

After being scolded by the government’s legal department for failing to get to grips with her partner’s “financial activities,” Huitfeldt acknowledged in a statement that she “should have asked [her] husband what shares he owned.”

In local elections in September, Solberg's Hoeyre party came top, with nearly 26% of votes, up nearly 6 percentage points from the last elections in 2019.

Gahr Støre’s social democratic Labour party, which for decades was Norway’s largest party in local elections, came in second with nearly 22% of the ballots, down 3.1% from 2019.

Solberg was defeated by the Labour party at the 2021 general election.

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