Claims Ministry prohibition opened for trade.
A grey area
Paul-Christian Rieber, chairman of GC Rieber Oils AS, believes requests by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (UD) to Norwegian businesses to suspend trade with the area didn’t apply to them.
“My assessment was it was more correct to continue when the UD came with its new recommendation. I see it’s a moot point, but there was no prohibition on trading in the area. There’s considerable room for interpretation” he tells Bergens Tidende.
Rieber also claims he’d asked the UD and Norwegian Embassy for advice, and that there was no UD veto in place when they started trading with Western Sahara in 1995.
Friends of the Earth Norway (Naturvernforbundet) allege Rieber Oils deliberately misled Norwegian customs by declaring the imported fish oil as a human nutrition, instead of a fish food product as part of a cover-up.
Greenpeace has reported both the company and Rieber, to the police for excise evasion.
However, Reiber maintains Rieber Oils isn’t liable for excise duty and says the company has sent documentation to customs authorities (Tollvesenet) as proof.
Rieber resigned from his position as president of the Norwegian Confederation of Enterprise (NHO) last month.
Prior to stepping down, he suggested Kristin Skog Lund, vice-president of the NHO, ask key members for their opinion on the matter. None of them pressured him into resigning, but there was little support.
At a press conference, Skog Lund said Rieber had stepped down “out of consideration for the NHO”.
Rieber tells Bergens Tidende he left due to the massive media coverage, saying he felt his two jobs became incompatible.
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