Norwegian police raided the premises of the Catholic Church Thursday on suspicion it had inflated membership figures for years to fraudulently claim six million euros in illegitimate state funding.
The Diocese of Oslo — which manages the records of the Catholic Church of Norway — is believed to have deliberately added thousands of people to its list of members, boosting funds provided by the state in the predominantly Protestant country.
The city’s bishop and the financial officer of the Diocese are suspects in the case and have been questioned by investigators, Oslo police’s lawyer Kristin Rusdal told AFP.
The fake members — allegedly immigrant names taken out of the phone directory — would have added 65,000 people to the church’s scrolls and awarded it an additional 50 million kroner ($6.57 million, 5.84 million euros) from 2010 to 2014, according to Rusdal.
During that time, the country’s Roman Catholic minority more than doubled in reported size, from fewer than 67,000 members in 2010 to 140,00 early last year, according to official figures.
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