Environmental think-tank secretly promoted DSB

The Waterfrontgate scandal deepens: New documents show DSB had secret influence over PR company’s environmental think-tank CCN and its magazine Climate

National rail operator DSB secretly funded an environmental think-tank and magazine in order to promote its own interests, according to new revelations by public broadcaster DR.

Copenhagen Climate Network (CCN) was established by the PR firm Waterfront to promote green and climate-friendly technology through its magazine Climate.

But according to emails obtained by DR, DSB secretly funded CCN to promote its interests without the knowledge of CCN’s management, which included high-profile politicians including the current environment minister, Ida Auken (Socialistisk Folkeparti).

The secret relationship is outlined in an email from Waterfront’s CEO Lars Poulsen to DSB’s management.

“Waterfront Communications established CCN and the magazine Climate with the support of DSB,” the email states. “Rumours may arise about the political control of DSB’s internal media. Climate will remain neutral on this subject and can speak freely – on behalf of DSB.”

Despite what these documents say, several former chairman of CCN – including Auken, who stepped down when she was appointed minister in 2011 – deny ever knowing its relationship with DSB.

“I was introduced to CCN as a business network for green businesses,” Auken told DR. “They did not tell me that DSB and Waterfront where behind it.”

One of the clearest examples of DSB’s use of CCN was its attempt to position itself as the future operator of a light-rail service that will follow the Copenhagen ring motorway, Ring 3.

“By presenting the rail solution as a light-rail S-train service, where the light trains connect to the S-train network […] DSB is brought closer to the job as operator of the service,” the private document states.

DSB was promoted as the best operator of a light rail service in an article published in Climate in October 2011 and written by CCN and Waterfront employee Lars Lindskov.

An internal mail also revealed how CCN promoted DSB as the best operator for the light- rail project at a 5,000 person Nordic rail conference.

“We promoted DSB’s views at a Nordic conference in Sweden the previous week and the co-operation seems to be working well,” Waterfront stated.

MEP Dan Jørgensen (Socialdemokraterne) took over as CCN chairman after Auken and says he feels deceived after hearing DR’s revelations.

“I’m angry at being misled,” Jørgensen told DR. “My name was used to legitimise a product that wasn’t what it appeared.”

This is Waterfront and DSB’s second scandal. Several weeks ago, DR revealed how DSB used the PR company to keep journalist Lars Abild busy so he wouldn’t have time to write about the troubled rail operator.

Waterfront recently announced that it had reported two former employees to the police for breaking confidentiality agreements and stealing sensitive information.

In a press release, Waterfront CEO Poulsen complained about the use of un-cited sources and unreleased documents to support accusations against them.

“I find it and absurd that I have become a target for one undocumented allegation after another,” Poulsen wrote, adding that he recognised that he had formulated himself badly in some confidential emails.

DSB suspended deputy director Peter Nedergaard and fired two political consultants following the initial scandal involving the journalist Abild. The Transport Ministry is now carrying out an investigation into DSB’s relationship with Waterfront.

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