OFF THE WIRE
After the headlines of the past couple of weeks, many are left wondering if there any Danish politicians who don’t have a personal connection to a drug-dealing biker gang.
This weekend, stories broke about two politicians who settled drug debts with gang members on behalf of loved ones. Their stories followed in the wake of a scandal involving an MP who failed a domestic security check in September because of his acquaintance with the leader of a biker gang.
In the latest revelations, Berlingske newspaper reported on Sunday that Anders Samuelsen, the leader of the Liberal Alliance party, in 2010 paid off a cocaine debt of between 10,000-20,000 kroner to a drug dealer with connections to the Hells Angels.
Samuelsen paid the debt in two separate payments. The first time he put an envelope with money in it in a mailbox. The second time he hand-delivered the money to a person whose identity he does not know.
Samuelsen told Berlingske that he paid the money to help a very close friend out of a dangerous situation. Later, however, he admitted that he had helped his oldest son.
“Intense inquiries have been launched from several sides to ‘expose’ who I helped. It was my oldest son. My concern for him outweighed everything else,” Samuelsen wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, following the publication of Berlingske’s story.
“It was my hope that my son’s legitimate desire for anonymity would be respected. Unfortunately, I have had to give that up. I am extremely proud of him – not least because of the great progress he has made coming out of this,” Samuelsen added.
Samuelsen said he took the precaution of informing then justice minister Lars Barfoed, of the Konservative party, before he handed the money over to the drug dealer.
“To ensure full transparency in relation to my work as a politician I personally called Lars Barfoed, who was justice minister at the time, and told him about the situation before I did anything to settle the debt,” Samuelsen wrote in an email to Berlingske. “I also asked Barfoed to tell PET [the domestic security agency]. The police were also notified.”
Samuelsen was not the only politician who had dealings with gang members. In its reporting, Berlingske also insinuated that there was a politician from Jutland who had paid off a drug debt.
That politician – Horsens City Council member Susan Gyldenkilde, of the Socialdemokraterne (S) – came forward on Sunday to prevent rumours from spreading about other people.
She told Politiken that two or three years ago she paid off an 8,000 kroner drug debt for a close friend, who came to her saying he had been threatened by some bikers to whom he owed money. Gyldenkilde and the friend went to the police, but he was too scared to inform on the bikers.
In the end, she decided to pay off the debt. She put the money in an envelope and gave it to someone she trusted, who promised to deliver it to the bikers. After the debt was paid, neither she nor her friend ever heard from the bikers again, she said.
According to defense attorney Thorkild Høyer, Samuelsen – and by extension Gyldenkilde – did not break the law.
“He didn’t do the buying,” Høyer said of Samuelsen, “The deal was already finished when he, at a later point, stepped forward with the money. Under Danish law you can’t be convicted for assisting in a crime, if you only become involved after it is over.”
“You could say that it was a case of extortion. In that regard, you could say that [Samuelsen] was helping a victim,” the lawyer added.
Whether Samuelsen or Gyldenkilde will suffer political consequences for their actions remains to be seen, but another prominent politician is already paying for his acquaintance with an alleged drug dealer and leader of a biker gang.
In September, MP Henrik Sass Larsen (S), was forced to resign as his party’s political spokesperson and withdraw his name from the short-list of ministerial candidates for the new government, when he failed the domestic security agency PET’s standard security check.
PET determined that Larsen could be indebted to the gang member, Torben Ohlsen-Nielsen, of the Bandidos biker gang, and thus vulnerable to extortion, based on the context of a single meeting and two text messages between Larsen and Ohlsen-Nielsen.
The text messages, which Larsen released last week, suggest that Ohlsen-Nielsen may have been protecting Larsen from some people who have told police that they furnished Larsen and his friend, Køge politician Tommy Kamp, with drugs. Larsen denied that that was the case, but Ohlsen-Nielsen said he was indeed protecting Larsen and his friend at their request.