Distortion: Good at parties, bad at numbers

City Council says shady financial dealings in the city-funded-festival’s books were ‘not malicious’ and instead offers full backing for street and club festival and its ‘creative’ organisers Distortion Festival kicks off today in Copenhagen drawing thousands of young people to...

Distortion Festival kicks off today in Copenhagen drawing thousands of young people to party in the city streets and nightclubs over the next five days.

But the grey cloud cover may prove an ominous start for the festival. Today Politiken newspaper ran a story alleging financial mismanagement by the famously chaotic organization that runs the festival.

The accusations target the festivals’ director, and former Copenhagen Post employee, Thomas Fleurquin, who owns Distortion and runs it through his company NusNus.

According to Politiken, Fleurquin illegally borrowed money on three occasions from the festival that this year received 1.15 million kroner of state support.

Accounting experts contacted by Politiken told the newspaper that the transfers of 120,507kroner in 2008, 18.197 kroner in 2010 and 15,000 kroner in 2011, were illegal.

“What the accounts show is clearly illegal,” Lars Kiertzner, authorized auditor and lecturer in accounting at Copenhagen Business School, said. “It looks as if he is using [the company’s] money as a kind of overdraft for when he needs money.”

Peter Gath, authorized accountant and partner at accounting firm KPMG, agreed with Kiertzner’s assessment.

“You can’t give yourself loans like that. It’s against company law,” Gath told Politiken.

Fleurquin admitted that the transfers had taken place but explained that they were all mistakes that were rectified and the money returned in full.

“I’m not very good at administration. I don’t know what you are and are not allowed to do,” Fleurquin said. “The party is important. The economy and the organization are second. That’s how Distortion has always been.”

Politiken wrote their story after being given access to the festival’s accounts. In their investigation they drew attention to many discrepancies in the company’s accounts such as the true extent of the deficit from last year’s festival, now thought to be about 780,000 kroner.

Fleurquin argued, however, that the mistakes were to be expected as their goal was to hold parties and not ensuring the numbers always added up.

“The reality is that we have focused on creating a good party first and doing the administration later. I have learned to become a director a little against my will, though I have always wanted to do it. All of those rules with VAT and whether you can withdraw your salary or not I have learned as we’ve gone along. But administration has never been our focus,” Fleurquin told Politiken.

Politiken could not reach Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for culture and leisure, Pia Allerslev (Venstre) for comment. Allerslev did give an interview to state broadcaster DR, however, in which she expressed her full support for the festival.

“We know it wasn’t done maliciously and that it was corrected and we are now following it very closely to make sure it doesn’t’ happened again,” Allerslev said referring to the illegal loans.

“We are working with some very creative people who are much more concerned with creating a great party than making sure all the formal arrangements are under control.”

Fleurquin has said that this year may be the last with free street parties. Last year’s deficit was a result of too few attendees in the evening club nights that guests have to buy tickets for.

Regardless, it is expected that much greater attention will be paid to rubbish collection and toilet provisions for the thousands of revelers in Copenhagen’s streets.

Copenhagen Police is also stepping up its efforts to keep order in the city as they announced today that they will use Twitter to keep party-goers informed.

“A small but good example could be that we might tweet that it is not sensible to take your bicycle to the street festival,” the police write in the press release, adding that bicycles could create obstacles for emergency vehicles.

“Our focus is that the festival proceed properly and without compromising safety. If anything happens, emergency vehicles have to be able to access the party areas.”'

The Copenhagen Post

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