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Employee at Danish social welfare authority embezzled 111 million kroner

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Employee at Danish social welfare authority embezzled 111 million kroner
Minister for Children and Social Affairs Mai Mercado. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
10:11 CEST+02:00
A former employee at Socialstyrelsen, an administrative department of the Ministry for Children and Social Affairs, misappropriated 111 million kroner (14.9 million euros) of public funds.

A 64-year-old woman is wanted by police after an internal investigation at the agency found evidence of embezzlement of over 100 million kroner, media including Ritzau, DR and Politiken reported on Tuesday after the ministry released details of the affair.

The suspect worked at the agency until September this year and is registered as living at an address in west Copenhagen, according to Politiken's report.

She is reported to have been a highly-trusted staff member whose role included coordinator duties, which gave her high-level access and privileges within the agency's internal systems.

She was employed by the authority for over 40 years before being expelled and denied access to systems and premises after the affair was discovered on September 26th, the newspaper writes.

Minister for Children and Social Affairs Mai Mercado said at a press conference on Tuesday that the woman has previously filed for bankruptcy. She registered a company in Denmark in 2006 and closed it in 2016.

The possibility of others having participated in the large-scale embezzlement is yet to be ruled out.

Embezzlement by the woman is reported to have taken place throughout a 16-year period from 2002 to 2018, investigations of transactions made by the woman have revealed, uncovering misappropriation of as much as 111 million kroner via 274 transactions to a private account – an amount that could yet increase pending further investigation.

The money is in many cases reported to have been taken from funds designated to support socially underprivileged people.

Mercado said on Tuesday that there was, however, no evidence that any social projects have been forced to close due to the suspected fraud.

“I am deeply shocked that there appears money for underprivileged groups appears to have been taken. It is completely unheard of for this kind of thing to happen,” Mercado said.

The case has been referred to the state prosecutor for Special Financial and International Crime (SØIK) while external investigations will also look into the extent of the fraud and how it was allowed to occur, Politiken writes.

The woman, who is wanted by Interpol, is reported to have fled abroad.

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