COPENHAGEN, Denmark A local court on Thursday convicted the financial controller of several humanitarian organizations in a major Danish fraud and embezzlement case, but acquitted seven other suspects, including the alleged ringleader. Sten Byrner was given a one-year suspended sentence in a case allegedly involving the embezzlement of 56 million kroner (€7.5 million; US$9.6 million) and tax fraud amounting to 52 million kroner (€7 million; US$9 million) over 14 years. Prosecutor Poul Gade had argued the fraud was orchestrated by Mogens Amdi Petersen, the founder of Tvind, a private Danish foundation he created in 1970 and known worldwide as Humana
Defenders say Planet Aid runs clean operation, fills need When Uli Stosch began placing yellow clothing collection boxes around the Kansas City metro area, she knew Lawrence’s recycling faithful would donate all they could. “Over and over we were told that Lawrence would be a very good place to collect,” Stosch said. Stosch runs the Kansas City branch of Massachusetts-based Planet Aid, which dropped its first yellow bin in the Lawrence area last fall. Local retailers who agreed to have the boxes on their property say they were quickly filled with used clothing and shoes. But even after Stosch and
Some officials in Lenawee County are challenging whether to allow a group’s clothing collection boxes. ADRIAN – The yellow clothing donation boxes set up around Lenawee County by a group called Planet Aid have some local officials seeing red. They’re questioning how much of Planet Aid’s money actually goes to humanitarian aid. They’re concerned about the prospect of hurting local charities that accept clothing donations. And they’re also worried by claims that Planet Aid is linked to a Danish organization called Tvind, or the Teachers Group, which some people consider a cult – claims that Planet Aid says are unfounded.
The year was 1988, and Lewis didn’t know then what prosecutors allege today: that Tvind was slowly morphing from a countercultural teachers collective into a criminal enterprise.
Promising the earth Tvind leaders hit on a novel strategy to make the most of the bright green clothing-collection bins that dot Chicago-area streets: They attempted to enlist foster children and juvenile delinquents to help gather and sort the clothes. Since it gained a foothold in the U.S. in the 1980s, the Danish organization known as Tvind has tried without success to operate schools and residential treatment programs for troubled youth. Tvind’s first effort was a small boarding school in rural Virginia. But state officials there revoked the school’s license in 1985 after finding violations, including sexual abuse of young
Gaia’s clothing collection business flourishes in Chicago, but its promises to promote the environment are questionable. Meanwhile, the organization’s leaders are under criminal indictment in Europe. On a rainy June morning in 2000, a bright green bin landed on a Wrigleyville street corner. Looking like an oversize chartreuse mailbox, it bore a strange poster that made a big promise: You feed in your old clothes, and our charity will sell them to finance environmental projects around the globe. “We hire rangers,” the box said, for “the protection of the living earth.” The projects ranged from the logical, like saving barrier
A small ad that’s been running in the Reader in recent weeks has a message for anyone with a big heart, a venturesome spirit, and an underdeveloped sense of skepticism. “Volunteer in Africa. . . . Work with HIV/AIDS orphans/outreach,” it says. “No experience necessary.” There’s mention of an upcoming informational meeting, and the curious are provided with a Massachusetts phone number, an e-mail address, and a URL. Intrigued, I e-mailed Humana People to People, the organization that placed the ad, asking what I could expect if I applied. Humana’s contact, Else Marie Pedersen, soon sent a long, informative reply.
Ten years ago the Guardian first raised doubts about the Danish organisation behind a chain of used-clothes charity shops. Now Mogens Amdi Petersen, the mysterious, Svengali-like figure behind the organisation is to stand trial in a GBP15m fraud case.
Evening News (England), May 15, 2003 http://www.eveningnews24.co.uk/ A charity linked to a sinister cult has started recruiting again in Norwich — more than three years after the Evening News first exposed its operation. The Tvind organisation places adverts in local newspapers and takes to the streets in a bid to lure volunteers by claiming to offer charity work for Aids victims in Malawi and Mozambique. The Danish-based cult gets people to pay for their own flights out to Scandinavia for a “six month training programme” before packing them off to the needy countries. But many volunteers claim the organisation attempts
The Copenhagen Post (Denmark), Feb. 7, 2003 http://cphpost.periskop.dk/ Defectors from the alternative school, or ‘sect,’ Tvind, are lining up to testify against Tvind founder Mogens Amdi Pedersen when he appears in the High Court on 5 March to answer charges of embezzlement and tax evasion. Fifteen of the names on the prosecution’s witness list are former Tvind members, who according to Berlingske Tidende have told police investigators that they are prepared to offer evidence that, contrary to Pedersen’s claims, he has run Tvind during his many years in exile abroad.