Denmark expands legal campaign to recoup tax fraud billions

A Danish flag is pictured in Copenhagen, Denmark April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark said on Tuesday it is targeting U.S. and British companies and individuals as it expands a global campaign to recoup billions of crowns it alleges were paid out in fraudulent tax refunds between 2012 and 2015.

Danish tax authorities said they have opened 388 civil cases against firms or individuals in several countries, including Britain and the United States, bringing claims to 12.7 billion Danish crowns ($1.95 billion).

Steen Bechmann Jacobsen, director of special control at the Danish Tax Agency, said in an email to Reuters the agency was now “engaged in a number of civil law measures in several countries, where there may be opportunities to apply for the proceeds or to institute civil proceedings and to claim damages.”

The authorities had previously said they would bring claims of around 11 billion crowns.

The money was claimed as refunds for tax deducted from stock dividends. Foreigners living outside Denmark are exempt from the 27 percent tax and are entitled to a rebate.

Denmark’s State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime has said that tax authorities have paid around two billion dollars in fake tax refunds.

According to the legal website, the country’s tax agency on July 27 filed a law suit at the High Court in London against 71 individuals and companies, alleging that pension plans and investment funds received tax refunds they weren’t entitled to.

A spokeswoman at the Danish tax agency and the London High Court could not confirm the filing.

Following a string of scandals which fueled public mistrust among Danes whose tax bill is the world’s highest. Denmark’s government last year unveiled a major overhaul of its tax agency.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Adrian Croft