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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 organisation.

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.

News Item

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 Constitution.

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 Environment.

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 Tvind’s activities.

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 program.

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 and taxed.

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 go through.

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 doing.

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.