Norway freezes aid to South Korean climate group

Norway freezes aid to South Korea's Global Green Growth Institute awaiting audit report

Associated Press

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- The Norwegian government said Tuesday it has frozen its donations to a South Korea-based environmental organization after reports emerged that its chairman spent huge sums on flights and food.

The Global Green Growth Institute, which advises developing nations on low carbon growth policies, came under fire in Denmark last week after it was revealed its Danish chairman, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, spent more than $180,000 on first class flights and food during 15 trips. Lokke Rasmussen heads Denmark's liberal party Venstre and served as the country's prime minister in 2009-2011.

GGGI's finances have previously been criticized in an audit in South Korea.

Norway's ministry of environment spokesman, Gard Nybro-Nielsen, said that the government will withhold donations of $10 million until it sees the results of another audit of the organization's finances. Denmark, which has donated 90 million kroner ($16 million) to GGGI, has also demanded a review before its support scheme is renewed in 2014.

GGGI spokesman Mike Sullivan said the organization has made significant progress in addressing issues raised in the South Korean 2012 audit, which was completed while GGGI was under a different leadership and before it became an international organization.

He said the organization submitted a progress report earlier this year detailing what it has done to address the issues and will submit another one "in just a few weeks."

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