Danish pension fund chief quits amid tax dodge controversy

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Christian Hyldahl will step down as chief executive officer of Denmark’s biggest pension fund, ATP, after becoming the target of a media storm for allegedly trying to dodge Swiss taxes while running a unit of Nordea Bank a decade ago.

The newspaper "Borsen" has reported that Hyldahl oversaw a Nordea unit that tried to speculate in dividend transactions on Swiss and French stocks for the sole purpose of taking advantage of a tax loophole, even after Swiss authorities ruled against the practice.

Hyldahl has in the past weeks repeatedly said that while some of the transactions he oversaw at Nordea were “wrong,” they weren’t illegal. He has also said that he has since changed his “mindset” and wouldn’t conduct similar trades today.

Hyldahl said that parts of ATP “no longer have faith in me’’ and that there is “a risk that the reputation of ATP will suffer” if he stays on, according to a statement published by the pension fund on Monday. The fund had called an extraordinary board meeting to discuss his future.

ATP, which manages about $120 billion of assets and is controlled by the Danish government, said the appointment of a temporary CEO “will be clarified as soon as possible.” Hyldahl, 53, joined ATP at the beginning of 2017 after more than 25 years at Nordea.

At ATP, Hyldahl had made social responsibility and active ownership his main focus areas.

During his tenure, the fund also conducted a string of large direct investments, including in Copenhagen Airports A/S and phone company TDC A/S.

Lawmakers from numerous parties, including the Danish People’s Party, the Red Green Alliance and the Liberal Alliance, had demanded Hyldahl step down.

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