Secret police may be investigated over lavish dinner expenses

Counter-terrorism funds used to pay for going-away dinner at gourmet city restaurant

A 10,000 kroner going-away dinner for a secret police boss could lead to a state auditor's investigation into how spy organisation PET spends its money.

Henrik Thorup (Dansk Folkeparti), one of six MPs serving as the legislature's auditors, said he will ask for permission to look into how PET is spending state funds after it was revealed that the 2012 dinner at Umami restaurant in central Copenhagen was paid for using money set aside to fund counter-terrorism efforts.

“I want to know what is going on at PET and this is something we should dig deeper into. PET only released a press release about the issue and that is too vague and uncertain,” Thorup told Berlingske newspaper. “It is unacceptable if nothing more happens in this case and I believe that we must dig deeper no matter what.”

Terrorism money spent on dinners
The Justice Ministry said it did not intend to open an investigation.

MP Pernille Skipper (Enhedslisten) demanded, however, that Rigsrevisionen, the national auditor's office, launch its own investigation into the unanswered questions.

“It’s not about the amount spent, but what is clear to everyone is that when we set aside funds for fighting terrorism they should be used for exactly that, not lavish dinners and drinks,” Skipper told Berlingske.

PET has reportedly held more than one such going-away dinner at Umami, but it is unknown exactly how many, since information about the counter-terrorism funds is considered confidential and destroyed every six months.

That has raised questions about how parliament can control an organisation that works in secret.

“This is an area in which PET faces less scrutiny than other public authorities and PET has shown that it doesn’t necessarily live up to that trust,” Skipper said.

PET should follow public speding guidelines

PET said it no longer uses the counter-terrorism funds to pay for going-away parties, but Bent Greve, a professor of public administration at Roskilde University, said the organisation should offer more than their word.

“When parliament approves a budget and sets out guidelines for those funds should be used, then the guidelines should be adhered to. PET can’t just use money as they see fit,” Greve told Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

Parliament's six auditors will meet with Rigsrevisionen on Wednesday to be briefed about the matter.

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