New book casts further doubt on legality of Dong sale to Goldman Sachs – The Post

New book casts further doubt on legality of Dong sale to Goldman Sachs

Newly revealed memo from government’s legal counsel highlights lack of transparency

Was it a legal move? (photo: iStock)
April 14th, 2015 1:40 pm| by Philip Tees

When the Danish state sold an 18 percent shareholding in the energy company Dong to the American investment bank Goldman Sachs, there was debate about the legality of the deal, and now a new book casts further doubt on the propriety of the transaction, Politiken reports.

READ MORE: Questions linger over DONG and Sachs deal

According to ‘Det bedste bud’ (the best offer) by journalist Anders-Peter Mathiasen, the government’s legal counsel Kammeradvokaten advised the Finance Ministry that the sale should take place under free market conditions and without an agreed governmental strategy.

“A deal should be open and transparent,” Kammeradvokaten is said to have written in a memo on EU rules on 3 February 2013, adding that the sale should be advertised “in such good time that potential investors would have time to become involved.”

Not publicly announced
Mathiasen accuses the government of failing to do this. The deal was publicised in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal just 16 days ahead of the deadline for bids and there was no announcement in the Danish media.

This is said to have elicited the conclusion from Kammeradvokaten in a memo of 26 January 2014 that “the process has – as a structured bidding process – not been publicly announced”.

Frank Aaen, Enhedslisten’s finance spokesperson, told Politiken that the revelation of Kammeradvokaten’s assessment of the process is evidence of a breach of EU rules.

However, the Finance Ministry rejects this assumption, claiming that the ‘structured bidding process’ doesn’t require publicity as long as the general competition rules are adhered to.