The U.S. Department of Agriculture has since 2004 donated $133 million to Planet Aid, despite warnings that the nonprofit is tied to a cult called Tvind, whose leaders are Interpol fugitives wanted for serious financial crimes in their native Denmark.
The USDA’s own staff members were sounding the alarm as early as 2006. And journalists from the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten , tried to warn the agency in 2009. That was around the time we at Tvind Alert started to chime in, connecting the dots for officials. But the USDA essentially ignored all of it.
Now, Planet Aid is being investigated by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, and the US Department of Justice, according to government documents obtained by Reveal News through the Freedom of Information Act.
The $133 million to date was given to Planet Aid for humanitarian programs in southern Africa, run by Planet Aid’s contractor, Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) — also said to be Tvind-controlled. But when Reveal News visited DAPP projects in Malawi in 2015, they appeared to be bogus.
This isn’t the first time that the USDA has been criticized for poor oversight. In May 2011 the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report identifying significant weaknesses in the agency’s grant procedures and monitoring practices for its overseas food aid programs. One of the GAO’s main concerns was that the USDA “does not systematically analyze implementing partners’ reporting and provides limited feedback,” and that “requirements for implementing partners do not ensure consistent reporting and lack performance indicators directly measuring educational progress, such as learning, and, in some cases, nutrition.”
In other words, the USDA relies solely on what grant recipients like Planet Aid report. There appears to be no real monitoring being done at all. The report went on to state that the USDA agreed with GAO’s recommendations for improvement and said that it would take steps to address them.
But that was six years ago. Judging by recent developments, it seems that nothing has really changed.
The above picture was taken from the north end of Tvind’s international headquarters, TG Pacifico, on Mexico’s Baja coast. In 2016, the Danish news outlet, DR3, published the first photos of Tvind’s leader, Mogens Amdi Petersen, in nearly 10 years, taken at the Mexican compound.
Reveal‘s latest story is here
The 2011 GAO report on the USDA is here