"It's all about profit"

Tvind owns property for millions, says Henning Bjornlund, the brains behind the many financial speculations of the empire.

Ekstra Bladet, Denmark/May 14, 1995
By Kurt Simonsen

Here he is - the man who juggled Tvind's billions over most of the world. Almost all of the money originally comes from Danish tax payers, paid out in state grants to the pupils and teachers of Tvind.

Tvind's financial wizard for twenty years, Financial Director Henning Bjornlund, now lives luxuriously in the city of Adelaide in Australia. The 45-year-old man now lives a financially carefree life. He lectures at the city's university - his subject is "property rights."

"I bought all Tvind's plantations abroad and have represented Tvind's corporate finances, until I left the firm five years ago," Henning Bjornlund explains.

It's Pure Business

With his fiancée Vibeke, whom he married in 1986 on the Cayman Islands in the sunny Caribbean in order to save a few hundred kroner a year, he has travelled the world several limes to inspect plantations and estimate what investments would pay back.

"The starting point for all purchases was that the plantations had to make a profit. We were not supposed to waste Tvind's money. No development work takes place in the plantations themselves. They're pure business," Henning and Vibeke openly explain.

Henning Bjørnlund joined the Travelling High School in 1970 and became a "teacher" for the first time in March 1972. Vibeke started as a student at The Necessary Teacher Training College in September of 1972. Since then, the two have dedicated their lives to Tvind.

In spite of the fact that five years ago they "defected", they are still deeply loyal toward the Tvind empire. They regularly speak to both Tvind founder Amdi Petersen and Head of School Poul Jorgensen, whom they also visit when they are in Denmark.

Got a Quarter of a Million Each

Unlike all other defectors, Vibeke and Henning Bjornlund received a quarter of a million Danish kroner each when they left Tvind.

Probably this was the empire's way of ensuring that the man in charge of all their financial investments will not willingly reveal too much to the general public.

"Although Vibeke does not like talking about it, we actually received $50,000 each then we left the firm - sort of as start-up capital," Tvind's former financial manager explains.

The Adventure is not Over

"At first we travelled in the USA for a couple of months, then we flew to Papua New Guinea and from there to Northern Australia. After another two months' wonderful travelling around in this wonderful continent, we chose to settle here in Adelaide.

Henning Bjornlund stubbornly denies Poul Jorgensen's statements to a couple of Danish papers about the Caribbean adventure being over.

"That's unthinkable. Tvind still owns all five banana and mango plantations in Belize for instance," Bjornlund says.

Then why does Poul Jorgensen tell the papers that the Belize plantations have been sold?

"That's just a smoke screen. We probably changed the structure of the company and sold them to ourselves."

Is it possible you are misinformed?

"I think that's unthinkable. Hell, I bought all those plantations. I visited Poul Jorgensen in November 1994, where, as always, we talked everything through. The plantations are my babies. Do you think he wouldn't have told me if they'd been sold? No - we talk about everything."

Why all the hush-hush and smoke screen that surround Tvind?

"The media have been chasing us ever since we went to ground. We don't trust reporters. And we've always gone right to the brink, legally speaking."

In what way?


"Well, we've always exploited the legal system to the limit. During the earliest years we let the teaching staff deduct eighty per cent of the salaries from their tax. It was never paid out the them anyway. The lot went to Tvind's coffers. I managed the whole thing."

And then they changed the law in 1987?

"Yes, that was purely a "Lex Tvind", a Tvind Act. But then we simply started the Humanitarian Foundation where you could only deduct sixteen per cent. We just said, "Oh dear, ever so sorry". We've got one hell of a fine accountant and lawyers who otherwise only work for the best firms in Denmark, you really have to know what you are doing if you want to catch them out. We're simply too smart. Unlike everybody else on the political left - a phrase I have to say I find meaningless anyway - we've always had a nose for money," Henning Bjornlund explains with a tinge of pride.

How many hundreds of millions does Tvind really own today?

Billions of Kroner

"Billions! It's a question of billions. I can't or won't tell you how many. But remember that the teaching staff has been 600 strong and there were still over 400 when we left Tvind five years ago..."

"500," Vibeke corrects him.

"Five hundred, that's right. They all receive a salary from the Danish State of more than let's say 200,000 Danish kroner per annum. 500 times 200,000. That's a hundred million every year. And the individual teacher hardly spends anything himself. And we get more than 100 million every year from the state in student fees. All of it goes into the general account. Although there are some costs, of course. But the investments around the world also earn very nicely. Dammit, I don't know what they're going to do with all that money," Tvind's former financial manager laughs.

Hearty laughter accompanies that remark.

He lives a good life now that he only has his personal finances to look after.

He has put visions about helping the poor and changing the world well behind him.

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