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Danish report
by Euro Reporter
2015-02-10 10:35:56
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Denmark seeks names of HSBC Swiss account holders

Denmark said on Monday it would seek the names of its citizens who may have used Swiss bank accounts to avoid tax at home, following media reports that the Swiss private banking unit of Britain's HSBC helped its customers do just that. HSBC on Sunday acknowledged its Swiss business had experienced compliance and control failures when it was newly acquired and not fully integrated.

Reports that HSBC helped customers evade tax stem from a leaked list of account holders obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The list included 329 Danes who had 4.8 billion crowns ($730 million) in Swiss accounts, said newspaper Politiken, which had access to the data. But although the list was shared by French authorities with other countries, Denmark had not asked for a copy.

The Danish tax ministry confirmed that an agency reporting to it was responsible for requesting such documents and that it had not done so at the time. "The Danish Central Customs and Tax Administration will as quickly as possible ask for the relevant information," the ministry said.


Rural flight threatens to 'break Denmark in half'

Denmark has long been fighting a losing battle against urbanization but the numbers of Danes leaving rural areas for the cities has grown significantly in recent years. According to a report in Jyllands-Posten, Danish cities with at least 20,000 residents have grown by 7.6 percent since 2009 while the population of rural areas has fallen by 5.2 percent. Numbers from Eurostat reveal that Denmark is one of the European countries with the largest population shift from rural to urban areas. 

The development has many concerned and calling on parliament to stop the exodus from Denmark’s smaller population centres. “Education, cultural offerings, house prices, public services, health – the rural areas are lagging behind in many areas,” Jørgen Møller, a rural development professor at Aalborg University, told Jyllands-Posten. “We have had this idea that one should be able to live a good live anywhere in Denmark, but that notion is threatened,” he added. 

Martin Damm, the chairman of Local Government Denmark (KL), an association of the nation’s 98 municipalities, said it’s easy to see why Danes, especially young people, are leaving rural areas. “The cities will soon be the only places where you can get an education so it’s not strange that young people are moving,” he told Jyllands-Posten. Holger Shou Rasmussen is the mayor of the sparsely-populated island of Lolland. He warned that the rural exodus threatens the nation’s future. “As a nation, we are about to break in half and therefore we need to discuss how Denmark will look in 25 years,” he told Jyllands-Posten. Carsten Hansen, the nation’s minister for housing, urban and rural affairs, said that he will determine an action plan for rural Denmark’s future. 


Anti-radicalisation initiative passed in Denmark

Denmark will spend nearly 60 million kroner on a new anti-radicalisation plan, after it was passed through parliament on a near unanimous vote. The initiative includes better funding for prisons, a special hotline for people to call if they have concerns family members or friends could become radicalised and so-called “exit centres” for people who have been part of Islamist groups in Iraq and Syria.

Justice Minister Mette Frederiksen explained that parliament had agreed Denmark needed to introduce an effective anti-radicalisation plan to solve Islamist-related problems that the country is currently experiencing, particularly among younger citizens. She said special focus would be put on preventing young people getting caught up in such environments, but pointed out that they were fully aware that if someone did get involved in such situations, they needed to have a plan in place to help them get away from it.

The plan was first proposed in August and has been a strong point of debate ever since, with the right-wing Venstre Party advocating tougher regulations like exit permits for Danish residents suspected of partaking in jihadism. However, a proposal to request the assistance of local imams has been scrapped because of the far-right Danish People’s Party’s objection to it. The far-left Red Green Alliance was the sole party to vote for the plan.


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