* Man charged with leaking Nets credit payments data
* Magazine suspected of receiving information
By Annabella Nielsen
COPENHAGEN, May 8 Danish police are
investigating suspected leaks of information about credit card
use by politicians, celebrities and members of the royal family
to a magazine in a widening scandal.
Police have charged a former male employee at International
Business Machines, contracted to work for card payments
firm Nets, with leaking Nets data to the magazine Se & Hor. He
has not been placed in detention.
"The suspicion is that Se & Hor in the period 2008-2012 has
received information about famous people's credit card
transactions from Nets," said Chief Superintendent Bent
Isager-Nielsen, leading the investigation at Copenhagen police.
Police say Nets, Se & Hor and IBM are cooperating in the
Credit cards used by former prime minister Lars Lokke
Rasmussen, members of the Danish royal family and actor Mads
Mikkelsen were allegedly among those monitored.
NO SECRET HONEYMOON
Se & Hor managed, for instance, to follow Danish Prince
Joachim and his wife on what was meant to be a secret honeymoon
to Canada in 2008, apparently after using leaked data about
their purchase of plane tickets.
"Let me make this clear: What has happened is, by all
appearances, extremely illegal. It is unethical, immoral and
irresponsible," Niels Pinborg, the magazine's chief editor since
November last year, wrote in Thursday's edition.
The man suspected of leaking the Nets data has not been
identified. Se & Hor says seven employees have been ordered to
take vacations during the probe. Henrik Qvortrup, who was editor
of Se & Hor in 2008, quit his job as a political commentator for
TV2 last week.
In 2011, British tabloid the News of the World closed after
a furore about phone hacking, ranging from the voicemails of a
missing teenage girl to celebrities including Queen Elizabeth's
grandson Prince Harry and Beatle Paul McCartney.
In March, private equity firms Advent International and Bain
Capital, along with Danish pension fund ATP, agreed to buy Nets
from a group of Nordic banks for 17 billion Danish crowns ($3.17
billion). The deal has not been affected.
Last year Nets systems handled 6 billion credit card
transactions. "It is not possible to guard oneself completely
against people who are abusing their trusted position to commit
crimes," Nets country manager Susanne Bronnum said.
She said in a statement that that some employees needed
access to card data to help customers with questions about their
payments. Nets plans to tighten security and step up checks of
employees' data logs.
According to media lawyer Oluf Jorgensen, anyone convicted
of leaking data in Denmark could face six years in jail.
"The tabloid press has always crossed the lines of privacy
violation, but there is a huge difference between taking a
picture of a princess sunbathing and this," he told Reuters.
($1 = 5.3612 Danish Crowns)
(Writing by Annabella Nielsen and Alister Doyle; editing by