16:31 GMT28 November 2020
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    Over a four-year period, Sweden and Denmark have been drained of millions of dollars in an extensive tax fraud scheme, spanning several countries. At least some of the missing money is suspected to have financed terrorism.

    In total, the state coffers of Sweden and Denmark were cheated out of at least 10 million and 3.3 million dollars, respectively. In Sweden, the fraud was primarily conducted by companies selling mobile phones, while other electronics, as well as products like chicken meat and sweets were also used in the fraud. In yet another case, large sums were transferred without explanation from one Danish company to one of the Swedish companies before both of the companies went bankrupt. Both the Swedish and the Danish police refused to comment on any of the individual cases.

    Among the people who have involved in the major international VAT fraud, there are suspected terrorists, stalwart Daesh sympathizers, people who shared addresses with former terrorists and jihadists, as well one person formerly suspected of terrorism, a joint survey conducted by Swedish Radio, Danish Radio and the newspaper Jyllands-Posten revealed. The exact extent of the terror funding was not revealed. However, both the Swedish and the Danish authorities pointed out suspicions of terrorism financing. In Denmark, one of the persons involved in the scheme, who is now dead, was previously put on the US sanctions list because of his terrorist relations.

    According to senior terrorist researcher of the Swedish National Defense College Magnus Ranstorp, this provides a new idea of how extremists in the Nordic region systematically amass large sums of money.

    "These depictions are far more extensive than anything we have previously known about. It's like lifting a stone and finding a whole new world underneath. And unfortunately, the authorities have yet to see the overall picture of this," Magnus Ranstorp told Swedish Radio.

    Although several people involved in the fraud have already been convicted, VAT fraud is known to be particularly hard to weed out, as the same schemes are known to run for many years.

    "Everything that is about providing people with an opportunity to finance terrorism is offensive. And it is all the more offensive to the public that it can continue," Anders Kassman of the Swedish Security Service told Swedish Radio.

    Nor could Magnus Ranstorp hide his indignation.

    "You get the impression that they can go on with this, and it's the taxpayers' money that goes away. The fact that it can continues makes me speechless," Magnus Ranstorp said.

    Last week, a massive leak of documents from the Spanish police identified Denmark as an important tool within the Spanish al-Qaeda network, revealing two Spanish citizens behind several now-closed companies that owe millions of kroner in unpaid VAT having traveled to Denmark on numerous occasions under the pretense of "doing business." The police believed that the two lead an Islamic network based in the Spanish enclave of Melilla in North Africa. While the leaked documents also suggested that Denmark was the first stop for the jihadists from this group being sent to conflict zones, Denmark's intelligence agency declined to respond to the leak, citing security reasons.

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    terrorism, Tax Fraud, Scandinavia, Denmark, Sweden
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