Clothing donors duped

Copenhagen Post/August 30, 2002

For over a decade, the controversial Tvind charity has promised that proceeds from sales of donated clothing are re-invested in the Third World. Profits are in fact re-routed to secret Tvind companies.

Under the guise of Third World aid, controversial educational charity Tvind has spent the last decade promising donors of used clothing throughout this country and the rest of Europe that their contribution is being used to benefit the poorest populations in the world.

But a report by daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende last Sunday found evidence to the contrary. Sources close to the Tvind organisation told the newspaper that Tvind has systematically embezzled hundreds of millions of kroner in proceeds from used clothing sales into its own companies.

The racket's strategy is relatively simple: Tvind charity UFF (known abroad as Humana) sells donated clothing to its own secret subsidiaries at a tiny fraction of its actual value. This tiny sum is sent to Third World countries, whilst the Tvind subsidiaries send the appropriated clothes again to private dealers in Eastern Europe and turns a tidy profit. Over the past decade, the Tvind empire has earned millions at the expense of the world's poor by this very strategy. In documenting its allegations, Berlingske Tidende reported that it was in possession of freight papers documenting the clothing transports. In addition, the newspaper spoke with former Tvind employees.

In response to the allegations about the Tvind clothing racket, retail supermarket chain Coop Danmark A/S (formerly known as FDB), which encompasses the SuperBrugsen, Kvickly, Irma, Fakta, and OBS chains, elected to remove all UFF clothing containers from its store parking lots. According to Coop Danmark, the administrative decision was taken after Tvind officials, in Coop Danmark's view, failed to respond openly to the charges levelled against the charity organisation regarding proceeds of its used clothing sales.

A spokesman for UFF expressed regret over Coop's decision. 'I can only lament the decision, but I can understand that a big company like Coop Danmark needs to appear spotless (in the public eye). The mistake lies with the newspapers, which have written total falsehoods. We haven't done anything wrong,' said Jesper Pedersen, acting director for UFF in Denmark.

The 150 UFF containers due for removal from Coop Danmark-owned parking lots are set to be replaced with clothing containers for the Red Cross.

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