Danes widen Vestas 'fraud' probe

Denmark’s Public Prosecutor for Special Economic and International Crime – the nation’s Fraud Squad – has extended its investigation into former Vestas chief financial officer (CFO) Henrik Norremark to include ex-Central Europe boss Hans Joern Rieks and other former executives, deputy public prosecutor Henrik Helmer Steen confirmed today.

Recharge was in April first to reveal the filing of a report by the Danish wind group with the German authorities in relation to financial transactions involving Rieks.

At that stage it was unclear whether Danish fraud investigators would look at that matter in connection with their ongoing inquiry into Norremark.

But Steen told Recharge today that the report filed on Rieks pertains to Norremark. “We have extended the investigation…Vestas filed a criminal case against Hans Joern Rieks in Germany and that case has some connection to Denmark, and that is something we are looking at.”

The Danish inquiries are reportedly focused on determining whether former Vestas employees used their position within the company for private profit.

Norremark left Vestas in February 2012. The wind group filed a criminal case against Norremark in December 2012 relating to allegedly unauthorised transactions in India – the so-called ‘Project Dragon’ – and last summer he was charged by the Fraud Squad.

Norremark has previously denied any wrongdoing through his lawyers.

Rieks also left Vestas in early 2012. He subsequently became CEO of Spain-based wind and solar services company GES in early 2013, and then left later that year to become head of UNA (UK, Northern Europe, APAC) for Siemens Wind Power. He has not commented on the claims.

The prosecutor told Recharge that the fraud squad is also looking into other former Vestas employees.

“A case has been filed which makes it interesting for us to look at other people. But from there to a situation where we are suspecting other people, let alone charging someone, there’s a very long way.

“But yes, there are other people who are interesting to us,” Steen said. He did not say whether any current Vestas employees are within the scope of the inquiry.

Steen believes it will be quite a while before the investigation is completed due to the complexity of the case, and the fact that it involves several other countries such as Germany and India.

“I think I can honestly say that nothing decisive will happen this year,” Steen said.

According to Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten, two whistle-blowers at Vestas first brought the company’s attention to the alleged misconduct.

A Vestas spokesman told Recharge it has no comment to make on the matter and will let the various inquiries run their course.

Vestas releases its first quarter financial results tomorrow.