Bank advises customer on how to dodge taxes

Hidden camera sting shows employee offering shady tax advice, bank fights back by reporting DR to the police

Tonight’s instalment of a DR Nyheder investigation into tax fraud and tax havens will show Henrik Löwe, an employee of Jyske Bank in Switzerland, advising a DR journalist posing as a potential customer, on creative ways to hide his money from Danish tax authorities.

“It is appalling,” Lars Koch, a policy head and tax expert at the grassroots organisation Ibis, said of the scene in the documentary. “It reveals, in this one case at least, Jyske Bank’s morality and just how far they are prepared to go.”

DR's fictional businessman is advised by Löwe to move patents for his products from Denmark to Gibraltar – a well known tax haven – and to deliberately set the value of his patents too low so the tax authority Skat will charge him less for taking his patents out of the country. He is also advised to open a Swiss bank account.

“In principle, you can keep it all tax-free as far as I can see,” Löwe said while the hidden camera was rolling.

Löwe also advises DR’s ‘businessman’ to settle in London to benefit from advantageous tax conditions for foreigners found there. Löwe even had a solution to offer if the customer wanted to spend more than 180 days a year in Denmark, the limit that the law sets for expat Danes. Löwe told the DR journalist to get a nameless credit card so Skat cannot track how much money he is spending in Denmark or when he is spending it.

“The taxman can only see that the money is going into a big pool in a Swiss bank, but there is no name connected to it,” Löwe said in front of a hidden camera.

Koch said that the advice reveals that Jyske Bank has "a decidedly shabby morality”, while Michael Bjørn Hansen, a tax lawyer and former Skat head, said that the advice that Löwe handed out is illegal.

Jyske Bank: “We do not advise about tax evasion”
Jyske Bank denied that it had done anything illegal and said that it only offers legal tax solutions to customers, even when they may demand something else.

“We do not advise about tax evasion,” Jens Lauritzen, Jyske Bank's head of private banking in Europe, told Politiken newspaper.

Lauritzen accused DR of using editing to make the bank look bad, and has reported DR to the police, saying that the use of hidden cameras to film the documentary is illegal in Switzerland.

"Jyske Bank strongly repudiates DR's methods," the company said in a statement. "Making recordings with a hidden camera is a criminal offence in Switzerland, so the affected employees and Jyske Bank Switzerland have filed a complaint against DR."

Tax minister: "Perverse"
Tax minister Holger K Nielsen expressed disgust at the advice given out by the bank.

“If what I heard is correct, then it reveals that someone has an unfortunately perverse understanding of what you can and can not advise on,” Nielsen told Politiken.

Financial gurus have said that the state treasury loses between three and five billion kroner each year due to Danes stashing money in tax havens.