SINTEF Petroleum Research accepts fine
The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (Økokrim) has fined SINTEF Petroleum Research (SPR) NOK 2 million in connection with a consulting contract signed with an Iranian company in 2002. “We accept the fine”, says SPR President May Britt Myhr.
“SINTEF has prioritised upgrading its routines from the day we became aware of this matter, so we are pleased that Økokrim acknowledges that we have implemented a number of measures to prevent such incidents from happening again. We will certainly use this experience in our continued development of SINTEF into an internationally leading research company”, states SINTEF President Unni Steinsmo.
Økokrim has concluded that a consulting contract SPR signed with an Iranian company in 2002 broke the law. Økokrim launched an investigation of SPR in August 2005 after the NOPEF trade union had reported the company to the authorities. Økokrim believes that the contract was in breach of criminal law. It has therefore fined SPR and has charged the former President of SPR with serious corruption (General Civil Penal Code, §276a, see §276b).
“We have from the beginning fully cooperated with Økokrim with the aim of getting all the facts on the table, and it has been our wish to have the legal situation clarified. Now, as Økokrim has completed this process, we have noted their evaluation of the case and we accept the fine”, says SPR President May Britt Myhr.
How SINTEF has dealt with the matter
Following an external study of the circumstances surrounding the consulting contract in autumn 2005, SINTEF stated that the contract was not in accordance with the research group’s own ethical guidelines, and that it should therefore not have been signed.
The SINTEF Group has improved its routines for signing international contracts and has strengthened its support systems for international business activities in general. The Group’s ethical guidelines have been revised and clarified, and an ethics ombudsman and an ethics council have been appointed to help SINTEF’s employees to deal better with difficult aspects of both research and commercial activities.
Økokrim confirms in its own press release that SINTEF has implemented a number of measures to prevent such matters in the future.
SINTEF’s President regrets
SINTEF’s President Unni Steinsmo emphasises that this has been a difficult situation for the research organisation:
“Økokrim has concluded that the contract was not in accordance with Norwegian law. At the time the contract was signed our routines and systems for doing business in the Mid-East were inadequate. However, we have learnt from this case and the lesson has made the company more competent and professional with regards to international business activities.