An investigation by Norway’s financial regulator into bond trades by DnB NOR, the country’s largest financial group, is threatening to ensnare the prime minister and a senior member of his staff.

Norway’s Financial Supervisory Authority said it is probing bond transactions by DnB NOR conducted ahead of the announcement on October 12 of a $55.4bn (€41.6bn, £32.8bn) banking rescue package.

The FSA said the probe would look at the content of communications between Karl Eirik Schjøtt-Pedersen, the prime minister’s chief of staff, and Rune Bjerke, DnB NOR’s chief executive.

It may also seek clarification on the content of SMS messages between Jens Stoltenberg, Norway’s prime minister, and Mr Bjerke. DnB NOR is 34 per cent owned by the Norwegian government. Local newspapers have reported that Mr Stoltenberg and Mr Bjerke are long-term friends and members of the same political party.

Mr Schjøtt-Pedersen said in a statement: “To secure that adequate measures are put in place, there has been extensive contact between the authorities and the financial sector, primarily through the Norwegian central bank and the ministry of finance. In the course of this process, I was contacted by the CEO of DnB NOR. However, I have made sure I did not share any confidential information in my communication with the CEO.”

The prime minister’s office insisted on Monday that his SMS messages were sent after the bond trades in question took place, and were therefore irrelevant.

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