Taxgate testimony casts additional doubts on political meddling

Prominent politicians from both Venstre and Socialdemokraterne tried to interfere with the audit of the PM and her husband

After another day of testimony in the Taxgate commission, additional doubt was cast on politicians on both ends on the spectrum for their roles in the confidential audit of PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) and her husband Stephen Kinnock.


Appearing before the commission yesterday, Skat Copenhagen’s tax director Lisbeth Rasmussen said that Skat officials felt that the tax minister at the time, Troels Lund Poulsen (Venstre) “asked a lot of questions” about the confidential audit.


Rasmussen also said that Peter Loft, a former top Tax Ministry official who worked closely with Poulsen, applied consistent pressure to the Skat officials working on the audit.


After the audit ruled that Kinnock, a British national who worked in Switzerland at the time, did not owe Danish taxes, Rasmussen said that Loft continued to express his doubt about the ruling.


“It seemed like [Loft] was getting pressure from somewhere because somebody wanted a different result,” Rasmussen said. 


Loft's role in Taxgate ultimately cost him his job.


For the first time in the Taxgate commission’s work to uncover the full story behind the leak of the audit, the commission opted to hold part of yesterday’s testimony behind closed doors.


Rasmussen was to tell the commission about information about Kinnock that she received from Thorning-Schmidt’s S-colleague, and the current finance minister, Bjarne Corydon. Corydon, for his part, stressed that although he respected the commission’s decision, he would have preferred that his role in the case be discussed openly.


Although it is unknown what Rasmussen said yesterday, various media outlets reported that Corydon approached Skat Copenhagen during last autumn’s election season and requested that Skat publicly refute rumours that were circulating amongst journalists at the time. 


It can be safely assumed that the rumours Corydon was referring to had to do with Kinnock’s sexuality. Rumours that Kinnock is either gay or bisexual led to Thorning-Schmidt going on the offensive in August and pre-emptively striking down a comment in the audit about her husband’s sexual preferences.


The comment apparently stemmed from the couple’s personal accountant, Frode Holm. The commission's investigation turned up a text written by Rasmussen that read: “After prolonged discussion, Frode Holm explained that SK [Stephen Kinnock] is bisexual/homosexual.” Holm said that he was making a comment that he thought would benefit the couple and remain confidential.


Poulsen’s former spindoctor, Peter Arnfeldt, who faces police charges for the “basis of suspicion” that he leaked the audit to the press, told the commission last month that rumours about Kinnock’s sexuality have been swirling since 2010.


As if the case of the leak of Thorning-Schmidt and Kinnock’s 2010 audit wasn’t complicated enough, questions have now also emerged about the handling of Thorning-Schmidt’s tax status in 1999.


Rasmussen told the commission that a memo was presented in connection to the current case in which the Tax Ministry ruled that Thorning-Schmidt wasn’t liable for Danish taxes when she was elected to the EU parliament in 1999. Despite the ruling that she wasn’t liable for Danish taxes, she ended up having to pay them anyway. According to Rasmussen, that was due to political meddling in the case.


That revelation led opposition party Dansk Folkeparti to demand yet another investigation.


“It is incredibly important that we get to the bottom of this so that Danes moving forward can have confidence that all citizens have their tax cases treated equally, and that there is not the risk of political interference, which seemed to the case in 1999 on behalf of Socialdemokratiet [the former name of Socialdemokraterne],” DF’s tax spokesperson Dennis Flydtkjær told DR News.