FIVE TEACHERS GROUP (TG) LEADERS are fugitives wanted by the judicial authorities of Denmark for “aggravated” embezzlement and tax evasion. In August 2013 the five were added to the ‘Red Notices’ list of wanted persons on Interpol’s website. The five are:
(click on names to see screenshot images of each listing)
Mogens Amdi Petersen – TG founder and leader
Kirsten Ambrosius Larsen – joint leader
Sten Byrner – former head of ‘TG Economy’
Marlene Gunst – former head of ‘TG Economy’
Christie Pipps (aka Kirsten Fuglsbjerg) – senior TG member
A sixth senior TG member, Poul Jørgensen, was convicted in 2009 of fraud and tax evasion and sentenced to 30 months imprisonment in Denmark. According to prosecutors, Jørgensen diverted millions of dollars earmarked for charitable use into TG-owned private businesses.
Jørgensen is thought to have served only about half of his sentence.
What is a Red Notice?
Interpol, an international organisation that facilitates worldwide police cooperation, was founded in 1923 and is based in Lyon, France. Interpol has a system of colour-coded Notices that enable countries to share alerts and requests for information worldwide. Yellow Notices, for example, are issued to help locate missing persons. Black Notices are for seeking information on unidentified bodies.
A Red Notice, according to Interpol’s website, is “a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.” Interpol publishes Red Notices at the request of member countries, and notices must comply with Interpol’s Constitution and Rules.
Another alert mechanism, a ‘Diffusion’, allows member countries to request cooperation directly from each other via email. This is less formal than a Red Notice, but still must comply with Interpol’s legal framework.
TG leaders not ‘wanted by Interpol’
Interpol makes it clear that, contrary to common belief, Red Notices and Diffusions are not international arrest warrants. Thus, it’s incorrect to say that a fugitive is ‘wanted by Interpol’. We at TvindAlert have conveyed this misconception on our website in the past. We apologise for this error, and would like to share more of what we’ve recently learned about Red Notices, Diffusions, and what Interpol actually does.
Despite what we see in movies, Interpol isn’t an international police agency, and its agents cannot make arrests. But the organisation does manage several databases containing information on criminals and crimes. Interpol also offers to its 194 member countries “investigative support such as forensics, analysis, and assistance in locating fugitives around the world.”
Some countries abuse Red Notices
Article 3 of Interpol’s Constitution states that “It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
But critics of Interpol say that while the organisation plays a vital role in fighting crime, some member nations abuse the Red Notice and Diffusion systems in order to target refugees, critical journalists, peaceful political dissidents, and even debtors.
Jago Russell, chief executive of Fair Trials, a human rights organisation, wrote in 2017 that the notices “have been used to give global reach (and a stamp of approval) to politically-motivated acts of oppression, at huge personal cost to these individuals and to Interpol’s reputation.”
Since 2009, Fair Trials has led the calls for Interpol to make greater efforts to filter out these abuses. Interpol has been responsive in recent years, enacting effective reforms, starting with enhanced review processes and a new policy banning Red Notices from being used against political refugees, if the notice comes from the country that they fled.
The consensus among observers, however, is that Interpol has much more work to do.
Russia, China, Iran and Turkey are often singled out as the biggest abusers of Interpol Red Notices. But some critics, like Theodore Bromund, PhD, would add the United States to the list, due to the Department of Homeland Security’s reliance on Notices from autocratic countries like Russia to justify the imprisonment of exiles in the U.S. Bromund, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think-tank, wrote in 2018 that the “scandalous” practice “is based on the false notion that the Notices are proof that these individuals pose a danger to the public.”
Denmark’s TG case legitimate
Yet despite the controversy, most of the thousands of Red Notices issued each year are no doubt legitimate, reserved for people suspected of committing serious crimes. And Denmark, often ranked as the world’s least-corrupt country, certainly doesn’t seem to be abusing Interpol’s system. Moreover, the Danish Public Prosecutor’s criminal case against the TG, summarised here, is solid with extensive documentation of alleged serious financial crimes perpetrated for years by Petersen and his followers.
To view the listings for the TG fugitives on Interpol’s website, search on the ‘View Red Notices’ page, here. Next, scroll down and select ‘Denmark’ in the ‘Nationality’ box on the left-hand side, then click on ‘Search’ further down. Currently, there are only about a dozen listings for Denmark.
Interpol’s website used to provide direct links to pages for specific fugitives, but this is no longer the case.
Further information on Red Notices can be found on the Interpol website, here