Norwegian ex-pat faces fraud

  • 2002-07-25
  • Jorgen Johansson

A Norwegian citizen arrested for attempting to scam a Latvian bank out of $2.5 million could face up to eight years behind bars if convicted.

Police said Jens Petter Viken, 40, attempted earlier this month to apply for a $2.5 million loan from Lativa's Transit Bank with what turned out to be a counterfeit credit guarnatee from Norwegian bank Den Norske Bank.

He was arrested July 7 in the Riga International Airport attempting to leave the country.

Inquiries from bank officials confirmed suspicions that the signatures on the credit guarantee looked false.

"We never issue any loans under a guarantee from any bank without checking it ourselves. We requested a verification from Den Norske Bank, and when the reply was negative, we called the police," said Transit Bank Vice President Davids Taurins. "He wanted to use the money for buying an enterprise, or a part of an enterprise here in Latvia, but it was not clear which one or why."

Viken previously took out a loan from Parex Bank, according to Christa Rubstein, international corporate communications liaison for the bank. She refused to verify the size of the loan.

This is not the first time that he has had a run-in with the law. In 1999, a court in Norway sentenced him to six months in jail for various tax crimes, forgery and falsifying bank documents.

Viken is behing held in Riga's Central Prison, where he is awaiting trial.

Bard Svendsen, councilor at the Norwegian Embassy in Riga, said embassy officials have been in contact with Viken.

"There is very little we can do for him at this moment. We just have to wait and see what the Latvian justice system will do," Svendsen said. "For obvious reasons, his relatives in Norway are also concerned."