The Riis Case

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The Riis Case

Thu, 15/06/2000 - 23:12

Press release


The Riis case

At the 11th of September this year, the main hearing between Amelia Riis (daughter of the deceased ship owner Kristoffer Olsen I) and the State of Norway will take place in the City Court of Oslo. Supreme Court Lawyer, Annæus Schjødt, handed in the summons against the State as early as 1978. It is set aside three months for the main hearing. KPMG Law is hired to represent the Riis family.

The case talks about whether the State is indirectly responsible for swindling all holdings from the Olsen Estate and then, further, out of Norway. At that time, it was one of the largest undivided estates in Norway. Furthermore, Amelia’s rightful $14 mill inheritance, which the Probate Court of Oslo according to the law was to administer, was by this taken from her.

It will also be a question whether the State is responsible for the Probate Court’s negligence or assistance which allowed the Government to take the 37.000 tdw bulk carrier MS SOGNEFJELL from Amelia Riis, while the Probate Court governed the estate. Sognefjell was a part of a deal between Amelia and her brother, ship owner Kristoffer Olsen Jr. According to the deal the ship was to be her part of the division of the estate

The Reksten case

The Riis case is a part of the Reksten-complex. Hilmar Reksten, the biggest ship owner in the world, was an owner of both P&O, Zapata Naess and most likely, Burmah Oil. Most of his fortune escaped taxation during the post-war period mostly because of help from the Norwegian Labor Government. This of course, caused a loss of millions of dollars for the nation. Due to very close relationship between Norway, Hambros Bank (now a division of Societe Generale, a French financial group) and Hilmar Reksten, the Norwegian Government and the Parliament have declined to bring up the truth in this complex. Readers that remember the details from the crisis in the seventies should recall that Reksten was picked out as the scapegoat for the negative consequences of Norwegian economical labor politics.

At the time when the worldwide economical crises evolved in the early seventies, the Government didn’t dare to ask Reksten to use his own money to save his bankrupted shipping company. Due to this governmental action, the Labor Government was forced to find "another" solution to Reksten’s economical problems.

Governmental assistance

The bulk carrier Sognefjell was, throughout several illegal governmental guided actions, taken from Amelia Riis and practically given to the well known shipping bank DnC (today DnB). The Government gave this ship to DnC as a substitute for a claim the bank had against Reksten. Reksten was at that time going bankrupt because his Norwegian enterprises were out of assets. On top of that, he didn’t want to spend his illegal fortune, which he had hidden abroad. The fact and the dimensions of his illegal fortune were known about in the Parliament and the Government.

The Labor Government had a lot of reasons to insure that Reksten didn’t go bankrupt and keep him a float. This led to, according to solid facts and documentation, a governmental "package deal" where a part of the arrangement was to take Sognefjell from Amelia and secure any backdoors where the Riis family could regain their inheritance.

The Probate Court, in the city of Oslo, didn’t interfere in this governmental intervention in the estate. It is therefore claimed that the Probate Court of Oslo is partly responsible for this illegal state-intervention in the estate and that the Government in their illegal actions swindled Sognefjell from Amelia Riis.

The vote hunt

The oil-crisis forwarded enormous negative consequences for both ship owners, banks, the shipping industry and the nation, in general. The Labor Government chose to straighten up these negative effects by pouring money into the bankrupt shipping industry. By this, the Government killed two birds with one stone so to say; they straightened up the Gallup poll and they saved the shipping industry. The cynical motive for this action, which cost the nation millions of dollars, was solely to buy labor votes.

This governmental "rescue" during the crisis-years of 1974-75, caused by the Labor Government’s economical politics in the post-war might have given the nation a loss of billions of dollars. Riis’ demands for damages will be added to this loss.

The delay

The Riis case has been delayed in the City Court of Oslo for 22 years, which in itself is a severe breach on art. 6 of the European Human Rights Convention. In an affidavit to the Attorney General (AG) in October 1978, the chief justice of the Probate Court, which had the responsibility for the undivided estate, wrote that he was willing to continue helping the AG with puncturing the Riis family’s case. The AG demands this exposing letter to be held out of the courtroom and the case. In addition to this, the AG has stated that he doesn’t want any publicity around the case.

The demand

Amelia Riis is demanding her damages covered up till today. The main demand in 1975 was approximately $14 million. Due to the time that has passed, the seriousness of the crime, and 25 years of fighting against the Government, the demand will be drastically higher. The loss arose because the Probate Court has managed (with knowledge) the estate in such a way that all the assets of the estate were drained out of it and hid abroad.

Skeleton in Statoil’s cabinet

It is claimed that one of the main characters in this illegal depletion is Statoil’s chairman, Supreme Court lawyer and former director of the shipping company Olsen&Ugelstad, Ole Lund, said to be the most powerful man in Norway.

It is a fact that the administration of the estate was handed over to one of the successors, the ship owner and brother of Amelia Riis, Kristoffer Olsen Jr. This gave Olsen and Lund free rein to siphon the estate. In addition to this, it is claimed that the Probate Court opened the doors for the governmental intervention. Amelia had come to an agreement with her brother about the dividing of the estate. By this agreement of 5th of April 1974, she was to be handed over, the bulk carrier, MS SOGNEFJELL. After the transfer of ownership, but before she got the ship, her brother broke the deal. In a controversial arbitration decision a year later, the contract was decided "null and void!"

This arbitration decision is contrary to the law and therefore, illegal. Neither of the parties had requested such a result. The consequence of this decision from Supreme Court Judge Gunnar Aasland, Professor Doctor juris Sjur Brækhus, and Supreme Court lawyer Knut Rasmussen, was that Amelia Riis’ rightful, $14 mill. inheritance was taken from her in the spring of 1975. It is claimed that this decision was fabricated and part of the "package deal".

Call of witnesses denied

Since the assertion is that the government is responsible for the theft of Sognefjell, Amelia claims her right to call well known ministers to the witness stand, such as:

Former Minister of Finance Per Kleppe

Former State Secretary, Bosnian peacemaker and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thorvald Stoltenberg

Former Minister of Commerce, Einar Magnussen.

In addition to this, Riis’ also demands that other people known for their power are to be called to the stand, such as:

Supreme Court Lawyer, Ole Lund

Former governor of the national bank, Hermod Skånland

Former director in the national bank, Per Steina

Supreme Court Lawyer, Christian Haneborg

Former director in DnB, Erling Naper among others.

All in all, Riis’ demands to call in some 50 to 80 witnesses, most of them powerful and well known people.

The state doesn’t want the truth to be exposed. So it remains to be seen whether the City Court dares to call in such a prominent list of witnesses, though they are required to.

In the interest of the Nation

It is yet to be seen whether the judge in the City Court will allow any witnesses or evidence to be called in at all. The fact is that unambiguous documents and statements bear witness to that the Norwegian State has swindled or in other ways, stolen the Riis’ entire fortune as well as their social standing.

Strictly speaking, the case will be about the state’s admission of gross breaches against fundamental human rights, recognition of severe governmental economical fraud and acceptance of governmental thefts from citizens. It will also be about whether a state, in certain cases is entitled or allowed to run over a person in the interest of the nation, this without being held responsible for it’s actions.

In the courtroom this fall, people will be faced with significant and fundamental questions, on top of series of exposing actions executed by the Central Administration, all this in the interest of the State.

Contact persons:

Herman J Berge

Phone +47 22 67 11 91

Fax +47 23 30 06 07

E. Riis

Phone +47 67 53 88 66