|Public split on mayor's fate|
| [31.08.2007, 12:20am, Fri. GMT]|
|Calls continued on Tuesday for Oslo's mayor to resign after he admitted cheating on his taxes, but Oslo voters seem evenly split on the issue. His daughter, meanwhile, is getting full pay from her employer (state-controlled Norsk Hydro) after she also admitted to tax evasion. |
Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen, who's among the top management at Hydro and works as the industrial firm's communications director, confirmed on national radio Tuesday morning that she will continue to receive full pay and benefits from Hydro while she's away from work on so-called "welfare permission." That means she'll keep collecting around NOK 150,000 a month (about USD 25,000) that she earns in her top management job. She claimed it was common for Hydro to support its employees who are caught up in personal crises, and that she was "completely certain" that any other Hydro employee would receive the same treatment.She told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that all the publicity around news of her secret Swiss bank account, which emerged as part of a bitter conflict with her ex-husband over their divorce settlement, had been "a huge strain" on her, and it would be best for herself and her family if she took some time off.
She described her job at Hydro as "exciting" and said she already looked forward to return after a leave of absence of unspecified length. Hydro officials earlier had called Ditlev-Simonsen's problems "personal" and that they would have no consequences for her job as the company's communications director.
It remained unclear whether she will retain the company's confidence after her admission that she failed to report her Swiss bank account to Norwegian authorities. One company official said merely that it was "positive" that Ditlev-Simonsen was making attempts to "clean up" her tax mess.
Mayor retains support
While 45 percent of Oslo residents questioned feel her father should resign as Oslo's mayor, meanwhile, another 43 percent believe he should be allowed to continue. Per Ditlev-Simonsen already was scheduled to retire in October, after this fall's local election.
Newspaper VG, meanwhile, used its front page on Tuesday to call for his immediate resignation. His decision to cease campaign activities for his party, the Conservatives, wasn't enough, VG argued, claiming that the party's key issues would continue to drown in controversy over the mayor's tax cheating.
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