Top Tax Ministry official Peter Loft, one of the key figures in the ‘Taxgate’ scandal, was relieved from his duties yesterday with immediate effect by the tax minister, Thor Möger Pedersen.
Loft was at the centre of the case surrounding the personal audit of then-PM candidate Helle Thorning-Schmidt and her husband Stephen Kinnock in 2010 and the subsequent leaking of information to the press. The case is currently being investigated by a commission.
“The ‘Taxgate’ commission has received two years for its work,” Pedersen said at a press conference. “It’s my assessment that a new permanent secretary can best lead the Tax Ministry through the challenges it faces.”
In November, Pedersen asked Loft and Erling Andersen, the head of the Copenhagen district office of tax authority Skat, to give him their written explanations of why they met five times in the summer of 2010 to discuss Thorning-Schmidt’s personal tax audit, and why Loft apparently gave Andersen the memo with the recommended decision on Thorning-Schmidt and Kinnock’s audit. The written explanations indicated that Troels Lund Poulsen (Venstre), the former tax minister, or his spin doctor, Peter Arnfeldt, may have authored the memo.
Poulsen subsequently took an unpaid leave of absence in December from parliament to deal with the charges. He returned to Christiansborg earlier this month.
It’s expected that Poulsen will undergo questioning from the special commission this autumn.
Following his dismissal of Loft, Pedersen told TV2 News that he didn’t have confidence in the man who is the ministry's highest ranking civil servant.
“It goes without saying that when I have relieved Peter Loft of his duties then clearly I don’t have full confidence in Peter Loft,” he said.
Speaking with Politiken newspaper, Pedersen would not indicate whether any new developments had led to Loft’s dismissal.
“A minister has a special obligation to consider important decisions carefully,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done. But I don’t think it would be proper to involve the public in the calculations that led to my decision.”
Reacting to yesterday’s firing, the 54-year-old Loft told Jyllands-Posten newspaper he understood why he was let go.
“I understand the decision,” he said. “I must honestly admit that I myself think that it is a burden to have such a matter hanging over my head.”