Danish man arrested in South Africa tied to social welfare embezzlement scandal

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish man arrested in South Africa tied to social welfare embezzlement scandal
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

A Danish man was arrested in South Africa this week for his suspected role in the massive embezzlement scandal at the National Board of Social Services (Socialstyrelsen), an administrative department of the Ministry for Children and Social Affairs.


The man was arrested at Johannesburg’s O. R. Tambo International Airport as he was attempting to leave the country. 
He is suspected of receiving stolen goods, including cash and properties, from the main suspect in the embezzlement case, Anna Britta Troelsgaard Nielsen.
Nielsen, a 64-year-old former employee at Socialstyrelsen is suspected of transferring 111 million kroner ($17.2 million) of public funds to herself over a 16-year period from 2002 to 2018.
“The man at the airport was arrested because we believe he had a leading role in using the money that went missing from Socialstryelsen. That is why he is being charged with receiving stolen goods, which could result in up to eight years in prison,” Thomas Anderskov Riis of Denmark's national fraud squad, Bagmandspolitiet, said via a press release. 
Broadcaster TV2 obtained the arrest warrant issued for the man, which details the stolen goods he allegedly received from Nielsen. She allegedly transferred some 3.6 million kroner to the man and gave him two plots of land valued at a minimum of 379,813 kroner.  
Riis said that the man’s arrest is an important step in the overall investigation. 
“I believe that every step, including arrests, can get us closer to solving the whole case. It’s too early to say whether [the arrest of the man] will lead us to the main suspect,” he told Ritzau. 
The arrested man is protected by rules preventing his names from being made public, so his relationship to Nielsen has not been revealed. 
Nielsen worked at Socialstyrelsen until September this year and is reported to have been a highly-trusted staff member whose role included coordinator duties that 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 in September.
In addition to the man arrested in South Africa, two women whose identities have not been publicly revealed are also suspected of receiving stolen goods from Nielsen. 


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