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Danish banks in dilemma over closure of ATMs in capital’s Christianshavn

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish banks in dilemma over closure of ATMs in capital’s Christianshavn
Danish banks must consider whether to close their ATMs on Christianshavn Square near Christiania. File photo: Mathias Eis/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish banks have been forced to decide whether to close their ATMs in Copenhagen neighbourhood Christianshavn, which neighbours the Christiania enclave which has recently seen violence connected to illegal drug trade in the area.

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Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest, told news wire Ritzau it was yet to make a decision over its machines, while Nordea will close down ATMs in the area byt the end of this week.

“We naturally listen to the authorities and are prepared to go into a dialogue with them about what we can do with our ATMs on Christianshavn Square,” Danske Bank told news wire Ritzau in a written comment.

Danske Bank has two ATMs on the square, which is located around 800 metres (half a mile) from Christiania.

The issue is at the fore after a flare-up of violence and shootings around the Pusher Street market in Christiania, an autonomous "freetown" community for people devoted to a libertarian lifestyle, where decisions are taken collectively.

While soft drugs such as marijuana and hash are officially illegal, they are sometimes tolerated in Christiania, but the increasing presence of organised crime groups has resulted in violence and shootings.

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Queues can often be observed at cash points in the area around Christiania, and are likely to be used to finance purchases of cannabis in the enclave.

“It is not a simple decision because a lot of residents in the area, including elderly people, still need to withdraw cash. But we will make an announcement when we have taken the decision,” Danske Bank said.

No timeline was given for any final decision on the matter.

Nordea decided to close its two ATMs in Christianshavn following dialogue with police, it said. The reason given for the closure was to fight economic crime in Christiania.

“We take the fight against economic crime very seriously and we are fully aware of the negative role cash has in criminal circles,” Nordea Denmark’s director for private customers Mads Skovlund told media Finanswatch last week.

The Nordea closures are expected to take effect this week.

A 30-year-old gang member was killed in a gang-related shooting in Christiania at the end of last month.

Christiania’s residents association stated after the most recent shooting that they want Pusher Street to be closed down for good and Copenhagen Police on Monday announced bans on gatherings at three locations across the city linked to the Hells Angels biker gang.

That came after an explosion at a Hells Angels clubhouse on Saturday that police said was a sign of escalating violence between gangs. The ban on the clubhouses is intended to remove them as targets for rival groups, police said.

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