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10.07.16

Danish Stories – Part III: Jesper Kongstad a Danish Civil Servant With a Distinctly Entrepreneurial Streak

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shakespeare Quote

Summary: A roundup which gives an overview of Jesper Kongstad’s various business ventures in Denmark

YESTERDAY we explored the political context in which Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation (EPO), exists in Denmark. Why does this matter? Stay tuned for the remainder of this series.

“…Kongstad still seems to be able to find enough time for an impressively diverse range of private entrepreneurial activities.”One might think that as the Director General of the DKPTO, a member of the Board of the Nordic Patent Institute (NPI) and Chairman of the EPO’s Administrative Council Mr. Kongstad would have very little spare time on his hands for dabbling in the grubby world of commerce.

At any rate this is the impression given in an interview published in the Danish farmers’ journal LandbrugsAvisen in February 2014, Ms. Kongstad claimed that her husband worked “more than full time” in his official job in the public sector.

In a similar vein in an interview which Kongstad himself gave to Managing Intellectual Property in March 2016 (subscription required to read the whole article), he stated the following: “I am now spending about half of my time on EPO-related work, but I do not receive any remuneration for that.”

“From the CVR data it appears that BREMELAND HOLDING and JESØK HOLDING are — as their names suggest — holding companies whose primary purpose to hold shares in other companies and businesses.”But despite being such a busy fellow in his public sector day job, Kongstad still seems to be able to find enough time for an impressively diverse range of private entrepreneurial activities.

A quick glance at the publicly-accessible Danish Central Business Register (aka CVR — Det Centrale Virksomhedsregister) reveals some interesting information. Note: The CVR is the central government register containing primary data on all businesses in Denmark, regardless of economic and organizational structure, except personally owned companies with an annual turnover of less than 50,000 DKK. The CVR is available with English navigation, headings and categories, although a lot of content is in Danish and it can be accessed by anyone.

According to the data contained in the CVR, the following private limited companies have their registered address at the Kongstad family home in Helsinge.

BREMELAND HOLDING ApS

Company Reg. No. 35033165

JESØK HOLDING ApS

Company Reg. No. 31160561

FJORDBLINK MEDICAL ApS

Company Reg. No. 25942507

From the CVR data it appears that BREMELAND HOLDING and JESØK HOLDING are — as their names suggest — holding companies whose primary purpose to hold shares in other companies and businesses.

“The main activity of Bremelandsgård is “breeding of fur animals, etc.”The shareholders in BREMELAND HOLDING are Mr. and Ms. Kongstad and their three sons. The shareholders in JESØK HOLDING are BREMELAND HOLDING and SK VIRUM HOLDING, a further holding company apparently owned by Mr. Kongstad’s brother.

FJORDBLINK MEDICAL ApS is an actively trading company which is 100% owned by BREMELAND HOLDING and whose main purpose is “to develop, produce, sell and trade with medical devices”.

A further business in the form of a sole proprietorship is also registered in Kongstad’s name:

Bremelandsgård v/Jesper Kongstad

Company Reg. No. 34572445

The main activity of Bremelandsgård is “breeding of fur animals, etc.” According to the CVR entry the company also engages in secondary lines of activity described as “business and other management consultancy activities”.

“According to the official record these companies ceased trading either after bankruptcy or voluntary liquidation or due to the company undergoing a split or merger.”Yet another company which is apparently owned and operated by the Kongstad family is WARMECENTRALEN A/S (Company Reg. No. 25801059), a plumbing and central heating company which is jointly owned by BREMELAND HOLDING and SK VIRUM HOLDING.

Aside from the currently active companies in the Kongstad family business conglomerate the CVR also lists a series of other now-defunct companies with which Kongstad was associated during the years 2001 and 2003 (i.e. before his appointment as Director General of the DKPTO): NASCENT ApS, BSP PHARMA A/S, ASTION DANMARK A/S, ASTION DEVELOPMENT A/S, ASTION HOLDING A/S, ASTION INFLAMMATION ApS, IDA ROYALTY ApS, INSTITUT FOR DROGEANALYSE A/S, HENRIKSHOLM A/S. According to the official record these companies ceased trading either after bankruptcy or voluntary liquidation or due to the company undergoing a split or merger.

One might wonder how Mr. Kongstad manages to find enough time and energy to devote to his various private business ventures given his onerous duties in the public sector as head of the DKPTO, member of the NPI Board and Chairman of the EPO Administrative Council.

“We are not in a position to pass judgment on the question as to whether or not Mr. Kongstad’s private entrepreneurial activities are in compliance with the code of conduct for Danish civil servants.”However, it is important to stress that there is no suggestion that his involvement in these ventures necessarily involves anything untoward or irregular and it should be noted that the official code of conduct for Danish civil servants does not exclude an official from having another occupation in addition to his official position.

Nevertheless, Section 17 of the Danish Civil Servants Act places some restrictions on other occupations: “An official may only have another occupation beside his official position insofar as and to the extent that it is consistent with the conscientious exercise of duties related to the official position and with the esteem and trust that the position requires.”

Note: The standards which apply in this regard are explained in more detail in the guidelines issued by the Danish State Employer’s Authority in a Danish language publication entitled “God adfærd i det offentlige”.

An English language summary entitled “Code of Conduct in the Public Sector – in brief” is also available.

According to the official guidelines, any additional occupation:

  • must not involve the risk of conflicts of interest in relation to the main occupation,
  • must not put too many demands on the employee’s work and
  • must not be against the “dignity requirement”.

The “dignity requirement” (or “decorum requirement”) is set out in § 10 of the Danish Civil Servants Act: “Officials must conscientiously abide by the rules that apply to their position, and both within and outside the service prove worthy of the esteem and trust that the position requires.”

“The final two parts will be dealing respectively with the medical appliance trading company FJORDBLINK MEDICAL ApS and the fur farming sole proprietorship Bremelandsgård.”We are not in a position to pass judgment on the question as to whether or not Mr. Kongstad’s private entrepreneurial activities are in compliance with the code of conduct for Danish civil servants. That is clearly a matter for the national authorities in Denmark and for his supervising minister, Troels Lund Poulsen. However, we do intend to take a closer look at some of the business ventures referred to above because they raise issues which may deserve further investigation, in particular the medical appliance company FJORDBLINK MEDICAL ApS and the fur farming sole proprietorship Bremelandsgård.

The final two parts will be dealing respectively with the medical appliance trading company FJORDBLINK MEDICAL ApS and the fur farming sole proprietorship Bremelandsgård.

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