Humanitarian fraudster convicted

The spokesman for controversial organisation Tvind has been convicted of fraud

Poul Jørgensen, one of the leading members of the Tvind humanitarian group, was found guilty of fraud on Tuesday by the Eastern High Court.

Jørgensen had been one of six members of the controversial aid and educational organisation to have been acquitted of the same charge by a district court in September 2006. A seventh member, Sten Byrner, was found guilty and given a one-year conditional sentence.

Prosecutors appealed the verdicts of the district court, but five of the remaining Tvind members, including the organisation's founder and leader, Mogens Amdi Petersen, disappeared shortly after the 2006 trial. The five are now wanted by Interpol and stand to face further charges in the High Court.

Jørgensen was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment for being part of a comprehensive fraud operation that involved the establishment of a humanitarian foundation where money taken in was channelled to the organisation's private businesses and never declared for tax purposes.

The court determined that Jørgensen was the main person responsible for the fund, which profited from 18 million kroner in embezzled funds and 22 million kroner more in untaxed income.

Prosecutors say they still hope to find Petersen, his partner Kirsten Larsen and the other three Tvind members in hiding and bring them to justice.

Fact file | Tvind

– The Tvind Corporation began as the Tvind travelling school, an educational system based on the concept of a rural collective. The school was seen as a pioneer in social development and environmental projects

– After receiving considerable public funding, the school expanded internationally under the Teachers Group, eventually becoming a global corporation

– Aid organisation Humana People to People is an offshoot of the Tvind Corporation

– Petersen allegedly owned two luxury apartments in Miami and one of the world's largest yachts

– Tvind has often been referred to as a cult, due to its alleged use of force to ensure its 'collective status