Norway: Largest welfare scandal

A longtime general practitioner in Oslo has admitted to his role in a welfare fraud scandal that prosecutors say may rank as the largest in Norwegian history.

The doctor and an unlicensed psychologist are charged with falsifying, for high fees, medical certification that allowed around 50 patients to receive as much as NOK 150 million in welfare payments (such as early retirement or disability benefits) between 1983 and 1999.

Most of the recipients are of Moroccan background, and some own property both in Norway and Morocco
. Several received relatively large welfare payments, of more than NOK 30,000 (USD 5,000) a month, based on the doctor's false certification.

He and the psychologist also worked in partnership with a psychiatrist, who remains under investigation. All three allegedly demanded high payments from their patients for the false certification, as much as NOK 15,000.

The Conservative Party, meanwhile, called on Tuesday for the government to make sure that state bureaucrats in charge of welfare services also report to the police all those who wrongly received welfare payments.

Someone has paid for the fraudulent doctor statements, claimed Martin Engeset of the Conservatives, suggesting they should be prosecuted as well.

The head of state welfare agency NAV said his agency is in the process of evaluating whether there are grounds for filing charges against any of the recipients.

The doctor and psychologist face prison terms of up to nine years. Prosecutor Elisabeth Roscher said more charges may be filed against other defendants.

Source: Aftenposten (English)

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