Nils Bernstein, the Director of the Danish National Bank, has spent almost 150,000 kroner on a week long trip to Singapore. This was paid for by Danish tax payers and has now made the bank re-evaluate its travel regulations, says the Chairman of the board, Søren Bjerre-Nielsen.
“Management will soon be revising the travel regulations, focusing on possible adjustments and updates – including whether the participation of spouses is valid today,” he says.
It is the Danish news paper Ekstra Bladet that has documented that Nils Bernstein and directorial colleague Jens Thomsen have spent 144,445 kroner on a trip to Singapore where they were accompanied by Jens Thomsen’s wife. The trip to South East Asia took place in September 2006 during the annual meeting of the International Currency Foundation (IMF).
The price of the flights alone was almost up there with the plane itself. At 75,916 kroner they were sky high.
The bankers and Mrs. Thomsen then stayed at Raffles Hotel – home of the Singapore Sling and one of the most exclusive hotels in the world.
The seven days there cost the Thomsen’s 25,776 kroner, or to put it in a different way: 3682 kroner per day.
On his way to Singapore, Nils Bernstein stops at a five star hotel in Frankfurt, and thus only stays six nights at Raffles. His stay therefore only cost the Danish tax payers 19,342 kroner – 3223 kroner per day.
According to Søren Bjerre-Nielsen, Ekstra Bladet’s articles have been discussed by management and later by the representatives of the bank. He also says that the National Bank has kept an eye on the rules for minister travels and that they will now look into whether the ministers have changed their travel behaviour.
The two political parties Venstre and Konservative have demanded that Nils Bernstein explain his expensive travels and presents the travel regulations of the National Bank to the Financial Department of Parliament.
The latest exposure focused on the fact that Nils Bernstein and Jens Thomsen spend twice as much on their travels as the Danish Minister of Finance Claus Hjort Frederiksen. For example, a trip to Brussels costs 9000 kroner for each of the Bank Directors while the Minister settles for an economy flight at 4600 kroner.
The Bank Directors realize that they have spent a large sum of money on their trip to Singapore, but they explain that it was an important meeting that apparently also required Jens Thomsen’s wife to be present.
Ekstra Bladet’s reporters asked Nils Bernstein:
Is it okay that the tax payers pay almost 150,000 kroner for your trip to Singapore?
“It is an expensive plane ticket. I didn’t bring my wife but Jens Thomsen did. It is not absolutely necessary to bring your wife but there are social activities scheduled, such as lectures and receptions, and we bring our spouses because part of the trip is to create new networks through those social activities.
But 150,000 kroner for seven days?
“Yes, that is a lot of money. We represent Denmark and a couple of times every year, we bring our wives and the bank pays. But we are not going to stay at the finest hotels.
Isn’t Raffles at the very top?
“We stay at the hotels where many of the other participants stay. But we could have stayed in Singapore at 500 kroner per night. I just view the hotels to be suitable for the positions we hold,” Nils Bernstein concludes.
Read the original stories from Ekstra Bladet here: