USAGAIN, THE TVIND TEACHERS GROUP used clothing collection business in the USA, will not be allowed to place collection bins in the US city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In a report to the city council, staff members have recommended that permits be denied, claiming USAgain had submitted ‘false information’ and had ‘an association with international fugitives.’
The staff report says that USAgain had repeatedly misrepresented the ‘true ownership and management’ of the company in a series of statements.
It failed to disclose it was part of a complex offshore network. Only after city officials pressed for further information did the offshore connection come to light.
A background investigation also showed that registered owners of USAgain were ‘associated with international fugitives wanted … for aggravated embezzlement and aggravated tax evasion’, the report, by the licensing and consumer services division, says.
It describes the fugitives as the ‘top leaders of a highly organized group called the Tvind Teachers Group’.
In March 2015, the company amended its statement yet again to admit that its real ultimate owner is an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands
USAgain LLC, based in Chicago, is a for-profit used clothing reseller and collects garments in more than 10,000 collection bins in 17 states across the USA. The company is owned by the Teachers Group (TG) — the controlling body of the broader Tvind organisation.
Other TG used clothes enterprises in the US include Planet Aid, Gaia Movement USA, Recycle for Change (formerly Campus California TG), One World Center (formerly Institute for International Cooperation & Development), and the Atlanta-based clothing broker, Garson & Shaw.
The Minneapolis report marks the first time an American city has conducted a thorough investigation into the multimillion-dollar TG clothing collection businesses and nonprofits in the US.
The report, drawn up by Grant Wilson, the city’s Manager for Licenses and Consumer Services, says that when USAgain first applied for a business license to place bins in Minneapolis in late 2014, the company supplied just two names, Mattias Wallander and Janice Bostic, who were said to own 35 per cent of the company.
The company later changed its statement to include the name of what was said to be a 90% holding company, USAgain Holdings LLC, Delaware, with shareholders in Belize, Laos and Mexico. Almost all the named shareholders are known to be TG members. Several are highly likely associates of the Interpol-listed fugitives.
In March 2015, the company amended its statement yet again, this time to admit that its real ultimate owner is an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands, USAgain Holdings BVI Ltd, which in turn is owned by a Jersey-registered company at the heart of the global TG financial maze, Fairbank, Cooper & Lyle.
The same TG names were listed as shareholders, with an additional shareholder, a company named Gold Coast Oversees [sic]. The shareholders of that business are Birgitte Krohn, Lynn Sally Sailsbury and Birgitte Hector Nielsen, all known members of the TG ‘inner circle’ and known associates of the fugitives.
Over a period of more than six months, USAgain made four confusing and contradictory statements about its structure and ownership, according to the report, but city officials said it had still failed to reveal the whole truth.
USAgain refused to disclose officers’ names at all levels and failed to mention an association with another company, TS Recycling LLC.
Meanwhile, the report says, USAgain illegally placed at least three collection bins in Minneapolis without a license, at least two of which were put on public sidewalks, where bins are not allowed.
“Some of the owners of USAgain and its related companies have been found to associate and conduct business transactions with the fugitives.”
The Minneapolis report names the five ‘international fugitives’ as Mogens Amdi Petersen, Kirsten Larsen, Christie Pipps (aka Kirsten Fuglsbjerg), Marlene Gunst and Sten Byrner. The five, all top TG leaders, are wanted by the judicial authorities of Denmark and listed in the ‘Red Notices’ section of Interpol’s website, after fleeing from court proceedings in Denmark in 2006.
The report also states: ‘Some of the owners of USAgain and its related companies have been found to associate and conduct business transactions with the fugitives.’
It goes on to specify six company officers — Mattias Wallander, Janice Bostic, Lynn Sailsbury, Birgitte Krohn, Anne Hansen and Gitte Hector (Birgitte Hector Nielsen) — together with Fairbank, Cooper & Lyle, and to give details of their alleged TG connections.
Last week, USAgain withdrew its license applications just three days before a hearing was to take place on December 4th, at which city staff recommendations were to be discussed.
The report in its entirety is available here.