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article imageCanada orders investigation into its embassy in Denmark

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By Arthur Weinreb     Aug 25, 2012 in World
Ottawa - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird ordered the probe after receiving allegations of serious misconduct by diplomats at Canada's embassy in Copenhagen.
News of the possible improprieties broke yesterday in an exclusive story published by the Ottawa Citizen. Based upon documents the newspaper received, there are serious allegations of wrongdoing leveled at staff employed in the embassy in Copenhagen. These allegations run the gamut from financial mismanagement to abuse of official privileges to racial harassment of a Danish staff member.
The Toronto Star reports Baird ordered the investigation after receiving numerous reports from local embassy staff. An aide to the foreign minister is quoted as saying, "There are very serious allegations and upon hearing them, Minister Baird immediately asked his deputy minister (Morris Rosenberg) to ensure than an independent and comprehensive investigation is undertaken. That investigation is ongoing."
Investigators from the Office of the Inspector General have been sent to the Danish capital and are expected to return to Canada tomorrow. They are interviewing complainants and reviewing documents.
The Leader-Post reports accusations have been made by at least 13 present and past employees, all of them Danish locals.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
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One of the allegations received by the Ottawa Citizen was that financial mismanagement occurred regarding the sale of the previous official residence. It is said that the sale was conducted without contracts or without asking for tenders.
It is also alleged that employees of the embassy, vehicles, and supplies such as alcohol were used for the personal use of diplomatic staff rather than for official purposes. Embassy staff are alleged to have been used as guards and drivers for "embassy functions" that were in reality, private parties. Embassy officials are also accused of using the embassy's wine and spirits for personal use without reimbursement.
Embassy officials are also accused of making racial slurs to an employee of Venezuelan descent. And it is purported that the embassy hired two Filipino workers who were not authorized to work in Denmark; one of whom was later deported from the country.
A security guard employed by the embassy was alleged to have been caught by a security camera in an embassy van in the company of prostitutes. The van was parked in the embassy's garage at the time and would constitute, if true, a breach of security.
As the Windsor Star reports, Peter Lundy, who served as ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark since 2008, left his post last week and is now back in Ottawa. It is said this was part of the normal diplomatic rotation and not related to the scandal.
If any of the allegations are true, this is not the first time something has been rotten in the state of Denmark. The Ottawa Citizen reports Ambassador Ernest Hebert was recalled from Copenhagen in 1995 after a housekeeper alleged he sexually assaulted her at a 1994 Christmas Party. Hebert's return was done quietly and the alleged incident was not revealed until 2001.
The investigation is expected to be completed within a month.
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