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Substantial deficiencies in the management of Norsk Tipping AS

During the period 2000-2007 the state-owned lottery and money games company Norsk Tipping AS carried out a number of transactions not considered to be in accordance with the decisions and intentions of the Storting. As a result the surplus from the lotteries and money games has been reduced and the social benefits are not optimal. ‘It is very important that Norsk Tipping handles the revenues from money games in a proper manner in order to fulfil the role as a political instrument in this area,’ says Auditor General Jørgen Kosmo.
Published 6/16/2009 11:55 AM

Document No 3:14 (2008–2009) The Office of the Auditor General’s expanded audit of Norsk Tipping AS was submitted to the Storting on the 16th of June.

A number of unfortunate and criticisable matters were uncovered during the audit of Norsk Tipping AS. As a result of inadequate follow-up by the board of directors, the former CEO was in several contexts given greater freedom to manoeuvre than the board should have accepted. The Office of the Auditor General also finds it unfortunate that the board authorised the chairman alone to follow-up the whistleblower case towards the CEO. The reason for this is that the gardener agreement appears to have been an internal matter between the chairman and the CEO, and that the agreement was formulated by the chairman himself.

In some cases Norsk Tipping AS has failed to manage the company’s financial assets in a rational manner. For instance, transactions have been carried out that were not in accordance with the company's purpose. ‘The inefficient use of resources may have resulted in a reduction of the share of the profits intended to be used for socially beneficial purposes,’ says Jørgen Kosmo.

Norsk Tipping AS spent approx. NOK 620 million on sponsorship and profiling activities during the period 2000-2007 in addition to its ordinary marketing budget. The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs has not issued guidelines concerning the extent of these activities. In regards to the testing of new games (trial games), the examination showed that Norsk Tipping AS did not have an overview of the amounts wagered nor whether the trial games resulted in profits. Neither did Norsk Tipping AS have guidelines concerning handling of profits from trial games. In addition, the company’s accounts have been deficient concerning traceability.

Norsk Tipping AS was not sufficiently acquaint with the regulations and the financial challenges regarding the company's subsidiaries Fabelaktiv AS and Spillverden AS, and the joint venture Buypass AS. Norsk Tipping AS has granted interest-free loans and written off loans in violation of the EEA Agreement’s regulations concerning public subsidies. Consequently, the subsidiaries and the joint venture have financially benefitted from Norsk Tipping AS' transactions. Through stock ownership, the employees of Buypass AS profited considerably from Norsk Tipping AS' purchases from this company.

Questions have been raised concerning impartiality and the division of roles in connection with several matters. ‘Norsk Tipping AS depends on public trust and should therefore have a particular focus on issues relating to dual roles, impartiality and ethical values,’ says Jørgen Kosmo.

The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs cannot see that there are grounds for suspecting misuse of funds or illegal cross-subsidisation in relation to the subsidiaries and the joint venture. It is unclear to the Ministry on what basis the Office of the Auditor General criticises Norsk Tipping AS' sponsorship activities. The Ministry was unaware of the problems relating to trial games until the Office of the Auditor General raised the issue. According to the Ministry, the issues of trial games, sponsorship and acquisition of real estate do not fall under the Ministry's ownership responsibility. The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs has no further comments on the board of directors' handling of the gardener case or on how the Ministry was informed during the process.

Deferred public access to documents prepared by or for the Office of the Auditor General in connection with Doc. no 3:14 (2008-2009), cf. the Act relating to the Office of the Auditor General section 18 second paragraph, is hereby set aside.

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