Denmark freezes funds overseas as investigates rogue tax payouts

August 24, 2016 9:39 AM EDT

The Nyhavn canal, part of the Copenhagen, Denmark, Harbor and home to many bars and restaurants, is seen in this August 11, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Teis Hald Jensen/Files


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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish authorities have carried out raids in Britain and elsewhere as they seek to recoup fraudulent tax refunds paid to people outside the country.

Evidence relating to at least 12 companies was seized and 2.1 billion crowns ($318 million) have been frozen in foreign bank accounts, tax authorities said on Wednesday.

However, that figure is not even a fifth of the money missing, which tax chiefs estimate at 12.3 billion crowns - up by 3.2 billion crowns from an estimate given in November after more tax applications have been examined.

The money has been claimed as repayments for tax deducted from stock dividends, according to tax authorities. Foreigners living outside Denmark are exempt from the 27 percent tax and are entitled to a rebate.

"It is still uncertain to what extent the money will end up in Denmark," the Danish Ministry of Taxation said in a statement. It did not give details of when and where the raids took place.

With a total tax burden amounting to 51 percent of gross domestic product, Danes carry the highest tax burden in the world, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In September, the Danish tax minister fired five managers after a string of scandals and announced he would hire 400 people in effort to restore confidence in the system.

The tax authorities have registered arrears of 74 billion Danish crowns as of the end of 2015, partly due to the tax scandals. Minister of Taxation Karsten Lauritzen has previously said he is not sure if authorities will be able to collect the full amount.

The Danish tax authorities expect to collect 936 billion crowns from individuals and companies in 2016.

($1 = 6.5988 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Ole Mikkelsen, Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Alison Williams)



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