Norway’s US$1 trillion oil fund has found itself in a scandal of its own making as its outgoing CEO and the hedge fund manager set to replace him are in hot water over a swanky private jet flight that broke compliance rules.
The outgoing boss of Norges Bank Investment Management, Yngve Slyngstad, wrote an internal memo to employees saying he “really screwed up” and damaged the sovereign wealth fund’s reputation by accepting the flight paid for by Nicolai Tangen, who is due to take over the reins of the fund in September.
The scandal prompted Norway’s central bank, which houses the fund, to agree to cover the costs of the November 2019 flight from Philadelphia to Oslo following a splashy seminar hosted by Tengen, the founder of the AKO Capital hedge fund. More than two dozen other high-profile Norwegians, including government ministers and business people, were also on the flight.
“I am truly sorry for letting you down, for letting the reputation of Norges Bank Investment Management down, and for letting our organizational culture down,” Slyngstad wrote in the memo, national broadcaster NRK reports.
Slyngstad is now the subject of a central-bank internal investigation and has a question mark hanging over his reputation, after 12 years managing the fund.
Details of the US$3 million closed seminar at the center of the controversy have been fodder for Norwegian newspapers since the scandal first broke at the weekend. The event took place at the Wharton business school, where Tangen sits on the board, and included private concerts by Sting and Gregory Porter.
Public servants in Norway are generally not associated with such opulence and Slyngstad wrote in the memo that he is “really, really sorry” and “embarrassed” for his behavior, which he said didn’t fit the fund’s “modest profile.”
“This is like mountain climbing. It is while climbing down, when you are tired and think that you have made it, that you fall,” he wrote.
The central bank’s top watchdog is now examining the circumstances in which Tangen was hired to succeed Slyngstad as CEO.
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