NORWAY: Top bureaucrat claimed false degrees

A high-ranking official at the Norwegian Regulation Authority for Health Personnel has quit following allegations she used fake degrees 15 years ago to be appointed.

Liv Løberg, whose husband is the security chief in Norway's parliament, was responsible for authorising the qualifications each year of hundreds of health professionals, including many foreign citizens.

As one of the regulation authority's four directors, Løberg allegedly produced false documentation when applying for the position 15 years ago. She claimed to have a bachelor degree in economics from Queen Mary College in London in 1989 and a degree in nursing.

She also had a document certifying she was awarded a masters degree in health economics from the London School of Economics in 1990, and a certificate from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration recognising these degrees as equivalent to the Norwegian degree siviløkonom.

In fact, Løberg only had an assistant nurse qualification from Sweden although she did have extensive administrative experiences in one of the major Norwegian political parties.

The authority is responsible for granting professional authorisation to applicants that allow them to practise their profession. More than 20 health professions exist and the most known are doctors, nurses, psychologists, dentists and so on.

Norwegian newspapers reported that several hundred foreign health professionals might have gained access to the country's labour market on false or insufficient documentation. Norway suspended authorisation of medical doctors from Pakistan in May.

Top health officials reacted angrily to news of Løberg's resignation and called for stricter control of the authority's operations. Løberg admitted the fraud and is being questioned by the police. She faces a possible jail sentence.

University officials said it was rare that they received requests from employers hiring professional staff to check whether their degrees were authentic. Observers believe this now might change.

Gerrit Løberg is reported to have known nothing of his wife's false documents.