STOCKHOLM—A Danish woman is wanted by Interpol on allegations that she scammed the welfare system out of more than $17 million, several Danish media have reported.
Danish authorities believe Anna Britta Troelsgaard Nielsen, 64, who was employed for 40 years at Socialstyrelsen, a government agency under the Ministry of Social Affairs, made over 274 payments between 2002 and 2018 to her own accounts of 111 million Danish kroner ($17 million) of the agency’s money, earmarked for particularly vulnerable citizens, bt.dk reported.
Nielsen was suspended in late September after suspicions arose about the diverted payments, but when authorities came to interview her, she had disappeared and is still at large.
Nielsen’s attorney, Nima Nabipour, is in contact with her, according to the Ritzau news agency. He declined to disclose her current whereabouts, when he last spoke to her, or even to comment about the allegations.
“I can’t get into the matter of how she responds to these accusations,” he said.
Nielsen was responsible at the agency for, among other things, helping disabled people and children at risk. Bt.dk reported that she was serving as a section manager, and the responsible lawmaker, Mai Mercado, said she was a trusted employee. Nielsen was honored with a medal from the Danish queen in February 2017 for her 40 years of service.
‘Disciplined and Systematic’ Frauds
Danish authorities are now trying to determine how such an enormous amount of money could have been diverted over such a long time without anyone noticing.
Ekstra Bladet reported that, according to a document from the prosecutor, an employee at Socialstyrelsen with high-level access had established fictitious projects with fictitious recipients of economic support, making payments and corrections, and changing the payment details several times to cover their tracks.
Police describe the suspected fraud as “disciplined and systematic” in nature, according to Ritzau.
On Oct. 11, Ekstra Bladet also reported that two more women are now suspected in the case as being beneficiaries of the alleged crime. They have petitioned the judge to have their identities concealed, which was also granted.
More details have emerged about Nielsen. According to Ekstra Bladet, along with her son, she owns property worth millions in South Africa, which sources say includes a large, exclusive house and a share in a safari resort near the Kruger National Park.
A local source told Ekstra Bladet that Nielsen’s son is “a young man with a lot of money.”
“We were given the explanation that it was an inheritance from his dead father,” the source added.
Ekstra Bladet reported that Nielsen also has spent a large amount of money on horses over the years. She owned a horse stud and her daughter is a show jumper. One of Nielsen’s horses, Pure Heart, participated in the show jumping world championship for young horses in Belgium in 2012. Dr.dk also reported that Google Maps pictures indicate several expensive cars have been parked outside Nielsen’s house.
She was declared bankrupt on Oct. 4 due to the allegations, and authorities have seized property in both Denmark and Sweden, as well as a smaller sum of money.