Two men accused of defrauding the Danish Treasury of millions of dollars in unpaid value-added tax (VAT) are jihadists who may have used their shady businesses to finance terrorists in Syria, according to Danish media reports.
An investigation carried out by Dagbladet Information and Jyllands-Posten found that a large-scale VAT scam in Denmark has ties to Islamic extremists.
The Danish papers revealed that 14 businessmen operated a network that failed to hand over DKK 800 million (about $120 million) in unpaid VAT, and that two of the alleged fraudsters are jihadists with allegiances to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).The two suspected terrorists are said to have operated a number of companies that went bankrupt, leaving behind a tax bill of at least DKK 97 million ($14.5 million) in VAT, as well as a DKK 66 million (almost $10 million) debt to private creditors.
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While the investigation was not able to determine where the money went, analysts told the two papers that they suspected the cash was used to fund terrorism.
“It is double as serious if a scam goes through and the money is used to undermine our society,” said Lars Krull, a senior adviser at Aalborg University and an expert in money laundering. He added that he feared the scheme could have financed foreign militants.
Professor Tom Kirchmaier, a researcher of financial crime at Copenhagen Business School and the London School of Economics, was puzzled by the fact that the Danish government hasn’t done more to prevent such scams from occurring.
“If you are to stop the jihadists, you have to stop their financing. And this starts with stopping the scams,” he told the papers.
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