|Mayor caught in tax probe|
| [31.08.2007, 12:02am, Fri. GMT]|
|slo Mayor Per Ditlev-Simonsen, patriarch of a shipowning family, won't comment on reports that his family has bank accounts in Switzerland that haven't been disclosed to tax authorities. The allegations come just weeks before municipal elections next month. |
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv reported Friday that the alleged Swiss bank accounts are mentioned in court papers filed in connection with an acrimonious divorce case between the mayor's daughter, Norsk Hydro communications director Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen, and his former son-in-law, Endre Rangnes, who's managing director of EDB Business Partners. The marriage lasted just over two years, from 2002 to 2004.Dagens Næringsliv reported that Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen contested her divorce settlement and demanded more money from Rangnes. In Norway, divorce settlements generally involve merely a 50-50 division of assets acquired during the marriage, and alimony payments in the American sense are rare.
Ditlev-Simonsen reportedly felt she deserved a larger slice of the couple's fortune. Rangnes responded by demanding that her entire fortune be taken into account, and that it included money in Swiss bank accounts used by the Ditlev-Simonsen family.
Family members including Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen reportedly could access the money by showing up in person at the Zurich branch of Credit Suisse. An Oslo city court is now planning to request evidence of the accounts in Switzerland, and family members including the mayor face being called into court to testify.
Norwegian tax regulations require Norwegians to report all assets worldwide including money in foreign bank accounts. The amount must be included in the calculation of the country's controversial "fortune tax," which is a tax levied on the difference between taxpayers' assets and debts, and which comes in addition to income and other taxes.
Tax authorities are also keen on determining the origins of the money in foreign accounts, in an effort to prevent or expose income tax evasion.
Neither Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen nor her father, who's been mayor of Oslo since 1995 for the Conservatives, will comment on whether their family has access to or has taken money out of Swiss accounts, calling it a "private family matter" stemming from a "painful divorce." Rangnes wouldn't comment either.
Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen's attorney, Anders Brosveet, claimed the allegations of secret Swiss bank accounts are simply part of Rangnes' tactics in the divorce case.
"We have filed documents in court that prove that the claims made in the divorce case are not true," Brosveet told Dagens Næringsliv, suggesting that Rangnes was trying to "wear out" Ditlev-Simonsen to prevent her from getting her "fair share" of their former estate.
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