Danish lighting boss jailed for seven years for £42m fraud

THE FORMER chief executive of a Danish lighting business that was once feted by the country’s prime minister has been sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding investors of more than 350 million Danish krone (£42 million, €47 million).

Hesalight manufactures LED products for applications including industrial and street lighting.  Denmark’s former prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt highlighted the company as a success story in a speech to parliament.

47-year-old Lars Nørholt, former boss of Hesalight, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and fined 15 million krone (£1.8 million, €2 million) by the Court of Roskilde for fraud and falsifying documents.

The court also confiscated a further 28 million krone (£3.3 million, €3.8 million) from him.

As well as misleading investors, Nørholt was found to have paid out millions from the business to himself and entities he controlled, including a property in Mallorca, and to have committed VAT fraud amounting to 15 million krone (£1.8 million, €2 million).

Nørholt, who pleaded not guilty, has appealed the verdict.

Hesalight, which made LED products for applications including industrial and street lighting, had received government support to help it keep up with rapidly rising demand.

In 2013, Denmark’s then prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt highlighted the company as a success story in a speech to parliament.

But the business went bankrupt in 2016 as its accounts began to unravel, and investors, including pension funds and furniture giant Ikea, demanded their money back.