PORTUGUESE TV CHANNEL RTP has aired a new and damning investigation into Humana Portugal, calculating that the supposed not-for-profit development charity gives only 13% of its revenue in Portugal to humanitarian work.
The investigation by ‘Sexta às Nove’ (‘Friday at Nine’) clearly explains the links between Humana Portugal, the Tvind Teachers Group and allegations of cultism, money laundering and tax evasion, and names senior TG members Jesper Wohlert and Per Jacob Albinus as directors.
Here is a partial translation of the 17-minute broadcast from April 15th. (There is a five minute gap which we hope to fill).
Sexta às Nove (Friday at Nine), RTP Portugal – investigation into Humana Portugal
Approximate transcription into English
Anchorwoman: Humana Portugal is an non-profit organisation, yet it generates more than €3.5m in revenues every year. The source of the money is the clothes you put in these collection bins spread all over the country. However, from all the money gathered, only 13% goes to the humanitarian missions that support the project, but which nobody supervises.
Last Christmas, Humana Portugal signed an agreement with the Instituto de Apoio à Criança (Institute for Child Support). The partnership allowed Humana to use the Institute’s image on several collection bins. The clothes collected, however, aren’t destined to children in need, but sent to the group’s stores.
When asked about these revelations, the Institute, led by Manuela Eanes, guaranteed it will review the partnership.
Misleading charity: Used clothes for sale in Portugal come from donations in collection bins
Reporter: After a crisis that left the country poorer, the Portuguese people learned survival tricks. The second hand clothing market helped in the family budget and allowed salaries to last longer.
Aloísio Ramos (customer): I’ve just bought cheap clothes for no more than €15.
Reporter: And are there always a lot of customers in this store?
Customer: Yes, there are plenty of customers.
Second hand clothes: the crisis is good for business and for shops selling used clothes worldwide
Reporter: This kind of business, in the vintage clothing market, tends to grow, with a considerable revenue.
Unidentified store owner: We travel abroad, buy, choose the pieces and bring what seems good to the store.
Reporter: You don’t buy anything in Portugal?.
Unidentified store owner: No, not at the moment. We buy shipping containers [of clothing] from America — Texas and California — and we bring them here.
Second hand clothes: Vintage stores buy 90% of the clothing from companies that collect donations in bins
Reporter: Walking around Lisbon between Rua Foreiro and Avenida Almirante Reis, we easily found five second hand clothing stores. All of them belong to Humana Portugal.
In Portugal, 90% of the vintage clothes on sale in this kind of store are from the same system, in which companies get the used clothes in containers to resell.
Business without risk: Humana Portugal collects clothing for free, as raw material dropped into their bins, and then resells it in its stores
Reporter: This means that Humana Portugal, which owns several of those stores, is just one company with 1,711 containers spread around the country. People place the used clothes as donations and the clothes go to Humana Portugal’s hands at zero cost for resale.
The parish council of the Parque das Naçoes is one of the entities that cooperates with Humana Portugal and two other organisations that also collect clothes in bins. The council guarantees that it is always transparent about its businesses.
Conceição Palha (member of Parque das Naçoes parish council): What we want is to share, but I admit that in the beginning there were some reservations, because it was not usual for different entities to share one place of donations.
Reporter: Where did these reservations come from?
Conceição Palha: The part about there being three entities, because it was not usual. Normally they were on an exclusivity basis in a given territory.
But we said we do not want exclusivity, that is exactly how it will differentiate us from other municipalities. What we want is to let people who donate choose whether to give to Humana Portugal, Caritas or Sarah Trading, depending on the mission and purpose of each organisation.
Misleading charity: Parishes and organisations receive financial contributions to support the installation of collection bins
Reporter: Humana Portugal takes on the purpose of international humanitarian aid for the neediest countries and communities, implementing projects for development, particularly in Africa.
The Portuguese association is linked to the international Humana People-to-People Movement, which has thirty-four member oganisations with links to the Teachers Group or Tvind, an international organisation considered to be a cult with economic motivations.
Humana under suspicion: The Humana Portugal association is part of Humana People to People, an organisation linked to Tvind and considered to be a cult
Reporter: Numerous news items and investigations relate to money laundering and tax evasion crimes, among others.
Conceição Palha: When we had the first meetings with them I must say all the rumours surrounding this organisation were not news to us. But, it’s like I tell you, we chose to rely on their word, like we relied on the other two entities and we trusted the good faith of their activity, although we are obviously vigilant.
Reporter: We have looked up the public deed from 1998, in which Humana Portugal’s collection and sale of second hand clothes was deemed the activity of a nonprofit association. This is also set in its statutes.
They identify themselves as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), but they use the Internet domain .org. They can use that designation despite the announced purpose of humanitarian aid, and they must not be confused with a non-governmental organisation for development.
Pedro Krupenski (President, Plataforma ONDG): This is not a Portuguese organisation. Actually, we do not know their origin, but it is surely not Portuguese because there is no record in Portugal of their activities.
Reporter: The Humana Portugal Association was founded by three people, two of them Danish: Per Jacob Albinus and Johan Stoltenberg Bendtsen.
They’ve changed their headquarters several times, and in the latest update of their company records, from 2014, there are still two Danes leading the organisation. The new president is named as Jesper Ditlev Wohlert and the Vice President is now Per Jacob Albinus.
Archive footage: Jesper Wohlert
Wohlert: My name is Jesper Wohlert, and I am director of the European charity Humana People to People.
Reporter: Wohlert, with a ‘W’, is one of the most important members of the Teachers Group or Tvind, founded in Denmark in 1970.
Humana under suspicion: the association consists of two Danes with links to the Teachers Group / Tvind
This organisation controls various humanitarian organisations in different countries, where only the name changes: Humana, Planet Aid, Gaia Movement, ADPP (Development Aid from People to People) in Mozambique.
Humana under suspicion: Numerous pages and forums on the Internet denounce the association, publishing documents and investigations
There are several websites and reporters that expose the illegalities of this group, reporting investigations worldwide.
Humana under suspicion: An RTP report in 2002 denounced the used clothing business and enslavement of volunteers
In 2002 this channel (RTP) raised many suspicions about the activity of Humana Portugal over the used clothing collection business and the recruitment of volunteers in Portugal.
Archive footage: João Albergaria
João Albergaria: I had to pay around 500 Contos – approximately €2,500 – to be a volunteer in Africa. Worse than that was to face the reality that Humana is no more than the façade of a cult that uses most of its donations to finance its own investments all over the world.
Humana under suspicion: There are many accusations that the Teachers Group cult diverts funds to offshore accounts
Reporter: Sexta às Nove gained access to a 2001 document from the FBI, where suspected practices of fiscal crimes of 10 million dollars are reported.
Mike Durham is an independent British journalist who has been tracking the Teachers Group for many years.
Mike Durham: The organisation that runs Humana is an extreme political body called the Teachers Group, part of whose philosophy is a requirement that its members work for nothing and hand over their money to the group’s leaders. Of course this has led to many accusations of virtual slavery and claims that the group is a cult.
Reporter: Speaking exclusively to Sexta às Nove, this journalist states that the clothes business feeds the entire network and that in Portugal the situation is exactly the same.
Mike Durham: The old clothes business of Humana Portugal is just a tiny proportion of what the Teachers Group does worldwide. In fact it runs dozens of supposedly humanitarian projects of different kinds in many different countries. It’s collecting money in more than 40 different countries including right across the United States, all of Europe, and many other countries as well.
Reporter: You can find the Teachers Group in many ex-Portuguese colonies such as Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. For the researcher it has been difficult to follow the trail of both the charity and of the money.
Mike Durham: Credible reports by insiders and others suggest that money is being sent back from Africa to Europe and then transferred to offshore accounts. At the heart of the concern about Humana and the Teachers Group is an absolutely staggering network of offshore bank accounts. The Teachers Group has been running offshore bank accounts since the mid-1980s and now has hundreds of them, in fact more than a hundred have been identified in places like the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and many other tax havens.
Tax fraud and irregularities: In Spain, the Association constituted as Foundation is suspected of paying less taxes
Reporter: In 2014 a news report in Spain denounced Humana, stating that despite invoicing for millions it barely paid any taxes. Around 5,000 clothing donation bins can be found in Spain and those were used to deposit clothes at no cost. Those clothes were later resold in one of Humana’s 28 Spanish shops.
Charity Business: In Portugal, Humana shops act as business premises issue invoices
In Portugal, Humana Portugal is a non-profit organisation, and due to this its financial statements are not made public. Simplified Business Information, which raises some questions.
Charity Business: Experts argue that Humana Portugal needs to submit accounts of their activity
Tiago Caiado Guerreiro (financial expert): If Humana Portugal receives [the goods] and then sells them in stores, not even by having bad management it can have losses. That means that it has to have an organised accounting and that it has to be structured.
Also, it is of extreme importance to understand that whoever donates goods to this kind of institution wants to know where these goods and money end up. That being said, these institutions carry a special duty of information and responsibility.
Reporter: To better understand this chain, Sexta às Nove visited one of Humana Portugal’s stores in Lisbon. We purchased two articles and asked for an invoice with our VAT number
“I’ll take these two please”
“That’s eight euros and 10 cents”[Reporter reads out VAT number.]
There was no problem. We left the shop with the invoice indicating that the tax authority is aware of Humana Portugal’s activity.
Article 10 of the Tax Regulations for Collective Organisations states that charity organisations are exempt from paying income tax. However, the Portuguese Order of Certified Accountants states that it’s not enough to declare oneself as a nonprofit organisation in order to have benefits when it comes to tax declaration.
Domingos Azevedo (Bastonário Ordem Contabilistas Certificados):
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Humana Portugal Defends Itself
Association denies legal relationship with the Teachers Group and charges of fraudulent practices
Only 13% of the revenues of Humana Portugal Association were channeled to humanitarian missions
Humana Portugal says that in 2014, it spent 80% of revenues from the collection and sale of used clothes
“For any information about the entity, you can check www.humana-portugal.org” … “Obtained the benefit is fully dedicated social order of the association”
IAC signs partnership with Humana Portugal to change my clothes delivered some families but only at Christmas
The Human Portugal and Tvind schools have no legal relationship. Both have a common origin but these are two identical independent. […] The Human Portugal does not have a be an International Volunteer Program. […] there is no relationship of association with alleged fraudulent practices, financial fraud by creating offshore accounts, or related sectarian behavior.
IAC signs partnership with Humana Portugal to change my clothes delivered some families but only at Christmas
Used clothes for sale in Humana Portugal come from donation bin collections
The company takes HSARAH recycling business and collects donated items in proper containers
HSARAH Trading does not announce solidarity missions your containers but receive clothes as donations
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Charity Business: HSARAH has social responsibility and supports projects of entities authorizing collection bins
Reporter: In the mission’s container park there are three bins side-by-side. Only the Caritas bin belongs directly to a charity that is also an NGO for development. The container of HSARAH Trading is personalised: for example, with the image of the GIL Foundation.
On the bins of Arroios, less than 200 metres away, we found no indication of who the clothes are given to, but with a number of random advertising pamphlets posted on the container.
Susana Saraiva (Management Control, HSARAH Trading): We have a telephone contact available 24 hours a day. It is written on all our equipment. We may be contacted so that we can easily clarify the destination of the goods, either the GIL Foundation — we have a partnership established with GIL — or the type of assistance. We explain the type of partnership and we explain the sort of assistance.
Charity Business: In 2015 Humana Portugal collected more than 5,000 tons of donated second-hand clothes
Reporter: The biggest national operator is Humana Portugal. In 2015 they collected 5,300 tons of donated used clothing. In a sector that is not well-regulated, the true volume of used clothes remain unknown even for the Textile and Clothes Association of Portugal.
What is the volume of this business…..?
João Costa (President, Association of Textile and Clothing Industries of Portugal): We do not know. We do not have any idea … of this information. But it is not difficult to estimate this is a business that represents some tens of millions of euros.
Charity Business: H SARAH Trading admits confusion in the market, where regulations are lacking and the numbers unknown
Susana Saraiva: According to the relevant Portuguese laws, we may say that there is no clear direction regarding what we may …
Reporter: In terms of this business what is the real volume of wealth circulating?
Susana Saraiva: No, no.
Reporter: In this business of clothes donated by the Portuguese — all raw material for free — Humana Portugal has no publicly available report.
There is a history available regarding this activity up to 2014, and a final page dedicated to accounts. It declares receipts of €3,548,568 and expenses close to that value of €3,480,143, leaving a balance of only €68,425 Euro as profit.
Multiplying these numbers, 80% of the receipts are spent on collecting and selling the clothes and only 13%, a little more than €470,000 is invested in cooperation projects in Mozambique and Guinea Bissau. 7% is profit.
Humana statement: Humana Portugal is aware of their fiscal obligation ( . . . ) as a non-profit organisation they dedicate 100% of the available resources generated to their social projects.
Misleading charity: used clothing donors confused by use of logos of foundations and institutes that support children
João Costa: Of course they should have their accounts clearly transparent so that everybody can see that this is not a business but clearly an activity with social objectives .
Reporter: Humana People to People is in 43 countries on 5 continents, employing 8,300 collaborators and involving 200,000 volunteers. In Portugal there are five or six entities that work in the market of used clothes involving collection bins.
Some of these activities are poorly regulated in an environment of recycling and a mission involving millions of euros.
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