The man, who is in his 30s, first had his case heard in Salten District Court. He was then charged with both social security fraud and illegal pirate taxi driving.
He was convicted of the latter and fined 18,000 kroner, and that he had to endure confiscation of dividends to the state.
The district court did not find him guilty of social security fraud. But the prosecution appealed it further to the Hålogaland Court of Appeal.
In the judgment from the Court of Appeal, which is dated 26 March 2021, the court gives a thorough account of how the man behaved over a period of one and a half years.
The court has found it proved beyond any doubt that the man:
- Got paid 3160 kroner a week from Nav after applying for unemployment benefits.
- Received payments in the period January 2017 to July 2018.
- Delivered 36 report cards to Nav completed with zero hours of work.
- Received a total of 188,000 kroner from Nav.
The court also points out that the man had a longer treatment time at Nav because he was fired from his previous job after embezzlement.
The man was convicted of pirate driving in the district court. He had never disputed this, but what was at stake was the scope of the operation – and whether this led to social security fraud.
The means of proof for the Court of Appeal include a printout of the man’s Vipps transactions. The court assumes that the list, after removing irrelevant transfers, includes approximately 1770 transfers that are payments for pirate taxi driving.
According to the court, the man earned about 264,000 kroner on these trips.
Convicted of fraud
Since the man has already been convicted of driving a pirate taxi, this is about whether he earned so well from the driving that he was not entitled to unemployment benefits.
The prosecuting authority has calculated that the accused has driven a pirate taxi for approximately 500 hours during the period he received unemployment benefits.
For two of the weeks, the working hours have been over 24.5 hours, and this amounts to more than 50 per cent of the normal working hours Nav has based its decision on when they gave the man unemployment benefits.
Based on this, Nav has calculated that the man was paid NOK 60,105 too much in unemployment benefits, as there should have been a reduction due to the pirate taxi business.
Does this mean that the man should be convicted of fraud?
The Court of Appeal has ruled that it does not matter to the duty to report that the income has been earned through illegal activities.
Illegal income is also taxable. This means that the court believes the company was required to report through Nav’s report card system.
The man claimed that he did not regard the business as notifiable “work”, but the court did not believe him in this and thought he was aware that he provided incomplete and incorrect information to Nav.
The court finally puts forward an argument that the fraud cannot be considered gross.
The man was thus convicted of fraud and received 30 hours of community service. He was also convicted of violating the Commercial Transport Act, ie pirate taxi driving, and fined NOK 18,000.
Satisfied with the verdict
Finn Ove Smith is the man’s lawyer, and tells NRK that the man is satisfied with the verdict.
– My client has pleaded guilty to this with driving all the way. He has also acknowledged the fact that he has been paid money from Nav that he should not receive.
Smith says his client has disagreed with the calculation made by Nav, which was the basis for the indictment.
– He agrees with the assessment that the court has now made, that this was not a gross social security fraud. And this harmonizes with what we have been prosecuting all along. In that sense, we have gained a foothold in the Court of Appeal, and my client is satisfied with the result, says Smith.
– This was really about how much you can work when you get unemployment benefits, and calculation of working hours. So we think the verdict is right now, Smith concludes.
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