Tvind - comment by Lars Rugaard in Orientering 30-10-2001.
A luxury apartment by Miami Beach, an extremely discrete Mr. Petersen
and a membership of a local millionaire's club are new elements in the
forever rolling case about Tvind - elements which have increased the
pressure on the authorities in order to brake the controversial
But as has been the case so many times before it’s main ingredient is
the indignation. This has until now not been enough, and this is why it is
still not certain whether the authorities will win the duel with Tvind
this time, Lars Rugaard is saying in his comments.
The symbol of the school co-operation is the great windmill at the main
premises of Tvind in Western Jutland. But we are talking about a symbol in
many more ways than was its purpose when it was built.
You see, many of the stories about Tvind are running just as steadily
as the wings of the windmill, and you can be sure that they have been
running in circles.
Until now, the biggest story took its point of departure in the
minister of Education Ole Vig and his attempt to tighten the legislation
in order to prevent the Tvind Schools from receiving public funds. The
attempt eventually ended in the Supreme Court where the very same court
declared his (and the Parliament’s ) attempts to be against the Danish
Another story has raised accusations against Tvind of fraud. It was the
National Audit Office together with the Parliament’s Barrister
(Kammeradvokaten) who had recommended to the Minister of Education to
raise the case, so he did. 21 months later, the Public Prosecutor in
Aalborg dismissed the case - the materials did not contain sufficient
evidence for prosecution.
In April of this year, the police went into action against Tvind’s
Headquarters in Ulfborg, Western Jutland - where the Windmill is standing,
symbolising the eternal cycle of life and nature. On the basis of rumours
of grave tax and breach of mandate the police carried out a raid and a
search and seized documents and a number of personal computers.
The target was this time not the schools, but what in Tvind-language is
called the Foundation - an abbreviation of The Foundation in Support of
Humanitarian purposes, to enhance Research and to the Protection of the
The police claimed that the funds had not been granted to projects in
accordance with the foundation’s objectives and thus illegally had
evaded paying taxes.
A repeating element in the stories on Tvind is the way the Press has
been involved. Several of the stories have bee the results of press
campaigns where previous Tvind employees have questioned the legality of
Most evident was the press involvement at the incident where the police
ransacked the main office in Tvind in April. This took place following a
so-called documentary in Danish Channel 2, and the Head of Police in
Holstebro, Jens Kaasgaard, stated at the time that the inspiration and the
spontaneous basis for the action was the materials presented in the TV
This was also given as the reason why the police invited the TV2 to be
on the spot and tape the police raid - a procedure from which the police
later on has dissociated themselves.
The latest story is an offshoot from the above - or rather an ornament.
The new thing is that the Jyllandsposten (Danish newspaper) in its
Sunday edition told a story about the founder of Tvind - the nearly
mythical - some would say demon like - Amdi Petersen who lives in a luxury
apartment in the millionaire paradise Fisher Island near Miami in USA.
In a glamorous article the newspaper is giving a colourful description
of the life in luxury which Amdi Petersen and his girlfriend Kirsten
Larsen are living in an apartment purchased by one of the companies which
belongs to the Tvind system. A description of Amdi Petersen waking up and
starting a new day could give the impression that the reporters of the
paper have spoken with him, but this however, is not the case.
The revelation has caused indignation and anger among politicians and
previous Tvind teachers, the Jyllandsposten claims in its article, which
has been followed on by the press. It has also resulted in closer
investigation by the tax authorities, whether Amdi Petersen could be said
to enjoy any fringe benefits which ought to be mentioned in his tax form
Undoubtedly, the story about the luxury apartment on Fisher Island has
increased the pressure to speed up the work to get the case against Tvind
and its founder to the court. The story about the First Man for an
institution which presents itself as a spearhead for the humanitarian and
environmental work around the Globe, apparently is using fortunes on
luxury, causes deep indignation and raises demands for determined action.
Was it the degree of indignation which was going to the determining
factor, no doubt, that Amdi Petersen and his people would be declared
guilty of everything with which it is possible to be prosecuted.
However, the legal judgement is not going to be made by a court of
ethics on the basis of stories made up by the press. The ruling must be
handled by a real court on the basis of thorough investigations by the
police and an inquiry into whether rules have been broken.
The story about Tvind is full of examples showing that judgement based
on indignation not always are waterproof when it comes to a legal
investigation. And looking at the available materials it looks like the
police is up against an extremely difficult case.
Various prominent lawyers have elaborated responses which, on important
points, are supporting Tvind’s repudiations of breach of tax regulations
and mandates. Primarily, it is a question of a foundation’s
possibilities for investing in other companies and what can be claimed to
be within the objectives of the Foundation.
Holstebro Police are working on the case. They have at long last
succeeded in getting access to the contents of encrypted documents from
Tvind’s computers, and this has given them a vast amount of materials to
The Chief Constable has confirmed again and again to the press that he
is in no haste in order to get to speak with Amdi Petersen. The Tvind
leader, according to the Chief Constable, could be difficult to get hold
of, has not resulted in involvement by international police. This may
indicate that the police are far from a breakthrough in this case.
The problem in almost all the Tvind cases, is that the organisation is
sticking extremely close to regulations now in force - which in this case
means that they are doing the same as the big company foundations are
If this course of action has succeeded also in this case, the final
result may be that the whole thing is falling apart and that the public
opinion once again is left behind, in its indignation and unsatisfied urge
to see the Tvind-mill being broken through the court of law.