The Fraud Examiner

Norwegian Fraud Fighter Draws on Decades of International Investigations
 

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May 2018

ACFE Member Profile
Erling Grimstad
CEO and Founder
Advokatfirmaet Erling Grimstad AS

Erling Grimstad has enjoyed a long career in the anti-fraud field. Starting out as a financial police investigator, he worked for the Norwegian Serious Fraud Office, headed up investigation and compliance teams in accounting firms and most recently established his own law firm to tackle investigation and compliance issues for private clients. His investigations have spanned the globe and he has encountered a wide range of fraud cases. From his earliest days he knew he wanted to right wrongs in the arena of financial crime. “I got a strong perception of unfairness and injustice,” he said.  “That has been my motivation to fight fraud and corruption since.”

 

How did you become passionate about fighting fraud?

As a young police officer in my early 20s, I was trained in the Financial Police Department to become an investigator. As a young investigator, I was caught by the action and adrenalin; I was convinced that financial crime undermined democracy and counteracted free competition. I feel that financial crime bears similarities with doping in sports — like doping in sports, it is difficult to disclose financial crime.

 

At the time, the Financial Police Department tackled investigations in some of the biggest white-collar crime cases ever investigated in Norway and I was appointed as head of one of the investigations. The case started with allegations of insurance fraud and theft of crude oil from the tanks onboard a ship. The shipping company specialized in crude oil traffic from Iran to the global market. The company was one of the biggest shipping companies in the world. The insurance company claimed that the stolen oil was used as bunkers oil (fuel) to reduce the fuel costs.

 

During the investigation and trial, I learned how almost everyone from the shipping company lied in the interrogations with the police and in front of the judge. I remember one of the pieces of evidence we found, burned and in pieces, where we could see pieces from the original records of payments made to all the seamen who participated in the transfer of crude oil onboard the oil tankers. The head of the shipping firm’s finance department admitted that he personally had burned the records. We later found a copy of these records and understood how they had tried to cover up the facts. Thankfully, a whistleblower brought the case to the insurance company, who reported the claim to the police. 

 

Shortly after this case, I was given a case related to one the biggest Norwegian banks at the time. The head of the foreign trading desk was caught for fraudulent actions and embezzlement on Black Monday in 1987. As a result of the fall in the stock markets, he was not able to extend all of his private positions hidden as real trades made for the bank and for clients. He had transferred the proceeds from the criminal acts to a trust in a bank account in Luxembourg. When we were able to prove that the trust was opened by him and that he controlled the bank account, he was convicted for serious fraud and embezzlement.


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