Danish opposition leader in hot water over tax scandal

30th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Danish opposition leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democrats interrupted her holiday on Friday amid allegations that she cheated on her taxes, a television station reported.

Television station TV2 news said Thorning-Schmidt would return to Copenhagen Friday, as media charged that an unpaid taxes scandal could strike a blow to her chances of becoming prime minister.

Thorning-Schmidt admitted Thursday she had made -- by mistake -- contradictory declarations to authorities about her British husband's situation in Denmark.

She told Danish tax authorities her husband, Stephen Kinnock, did not spend more than 33 weekends a year in Denmark, thereby avoiding having to pay taxes in Denmark instead of in Switzerland, where he works.

But she told the justice ministry he spent all of his weekends in Denmark, allowing him to be listed as co-owner of their Copenhagen home, with home-owning by foreigners strictly regulated in Denmark.

"Even if it turns out to be a mistake, it is serious when a candidate to the post of prime minister does not have control over facts," tabloid B.T. said.

In an editorial, conservative daily Berlingske Tidende asked: "Who would dare entrust the country to Helle Thorning-Schmidt?"

"She is a weakened leader for sure," it charged.

Denmark, like its nordic neighbours, is strict about the honesty of its public officials.

"She will hardly survive as party chairperson," left-wing paper Information said, while business daily Boersen said her trustworthiness had "hit zero."

An editorial in Jyllands-Posten said she was "calculating and cynical, not driven by the idea of creating an equal society."

Only centre-left daily Politiken still saw hope for her political career, "depending on how she will explain herself and how voters will perceive these explanations."

Danes are to go to the polls before November 2011.

© 2010 AFP

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