Saturday, 1 October 2011

Awakening Virtue (October-November 2011)

A Call for Courage:
Missing Money and Missing Action

“We are deeply concerned about the Nordic Capital Investment (NCI) scheme which is currently being investigated and prosecuted. This scheme has seriously harmed many individuals, families, and organizations, especially in the international church-mission community (CMC). People have lost their life savings, organizations in the international CMC have suffered from questionable personnel practices and ineffective governance, and humanitarian projects have been financed with dubious money. Millions of dollars (the composite in many currencies) have been involved. We believe that in addition to the court cases and media coverage, there is a critical need and responsibility for the international CMC to discuss, investigate, and address the effects of the NCI scheme and related issues that have evolved alongside it.” PETRA Statement 2011

NCI Trial Update
 According to a media source in Sweden, the NCI appeals trial in Stockholm began 13 September and is scheduled to be finished by 21 October. The Defense and Prosecution appear to be presenting no new evidence since the initial court case in Uppsala in September 2010. Nor are there new charges. The trial is thus said to be more or less a replay of the case from Uppsala and testimonies from Uppsala are shown again via the video-recordings. It takes about a month after the appeals trial for the written verdict to be released, So perhaps by late November there will be a final verdict (focusing on the previous verdict about the fraudulent and criminal actions of Mr. Westergard/NCI).

Reflection 1:
Perhaps there may be some additional information used and unexpected outcomes in the appeals trial. And perhaps other investigations will in fact build upon Sweden’s narrow focus of this international case. Both the Prosecution and Defense have lots of information about the fraud that involves others and money flows to others---if they choose to use it. Has Mr. Westergard fully disclosed the purposes and money flows for NCI? Other parties involved have yet to verifiably disclose the details of all the NCI-related money received and the various types of involvement. And no one is holding these parties accountable to do so.
Again we ask, where did the money go and what are people doing about it?

Reflection 2:
How thorough and accurate are the June 2011 Statements from the Mercy Ministries Boards and from the European Evangelical Missions Association (EEMA)? They say nothing specific about the major money flows and hence a major part of the full story is missing. The EEMA’s authoritative public Statement of 13 June 2011, saying that “Le Rucher has not benefitted from this fraud in any way.” omitted this sentence entirely in its revised authoritative Statement issued the next day on 14 June 20l1. The additional declaration that “We believe the mission community has fully investigated this matter and that the guilty have been successfully prosecuted through the courts” is also perplexing, in light of the court case still being in progress as well as there being no body in the mission community that has independently or otherwise professionally investigated this case. If so where is the report? Contact these organisatons to read their Statements, including the inital one from 13 June 2011 from the EEMA.
Again we ask, where did the money go and what are people doing about it?

Reflection 3:
The Mercy Ministry Board members and past members (many who have been approached to invest in NCI over the years and some who in fact did so) would do well to authorise an independent investigation and especially to disclose the money flows to and from Mercy Ministries and the special NGF account that was set up. Why is this not being done, and in light of the money-flow-related records from the EBM and the Uppsala court?  This is money that belongs to investors-victims and needs to be returned. For more information/documents see Information and Observations about NCI and Suggestions: Going Forward (point six) on the PETRA People website.
Again we ask, where did the money go and what are people doing about it?

Reflection 4:
**Youth With A Mission—senior leaders as well as staff—would do well to also authorise an independent investigation (as called upon by the Petra Statement 2011 signatories and others). Not doing so simply continues to raise serious questions about how the organization is affected by NCI and their responsibility. For more information/documents see the recent letter asking YWAM leaders for assistance and the previous letters asking for assistance on the PETRA People website.
**The same is true of Mercy Ships in light of EBM and court documents that indicate that they were to benefit in a major financial way from NCI. They too have been called upon to verifiably investigate and disclose.
**People also in the church community in the Geneva area—including Crossroads Church in Ferney-Voltaire where NCI was promoted to the former senior pastor and other leaders and members over the years. Some Dutch churches too where NCI was promoted. Disclose, clarify with verification, and help. Click here to see two letters to the churches and church leaders requesting help, on the PETRA People website.
**Youth for Christ Switzerland whose address by an NCI administrator was used to conduct a substantial amount of NCI business for several years.

See the web entry from 24 May 2011 for more details.
Again we ask, where did the money go and what are people doing about it?

Reflection 5:
Ruth van Reken’s sensible voice is worth repeating here via her comment on this weblog. (She is an international consultant in the expatriate sector and co-author with Dave Pollock of the TCK Experience).
“To me, it seems relatively simple. Those who have nothing to fear should welcome an open investigation into all of these matters and be the first to open their books to the public, both individuals and organizations who were sadly caught up in this mess, “winners” and “losers” alike. If this reiterates the New Era Ponzi scheme that happened a few years ago, undoubtedly some individuals and organizations profited while others lost simply because of the nature of a Ponzi scheme. As we all know, these schemes keep going because initial investors do, in fact, receive money received from the next investors down the line. Again, the presumed fact that some gained in this scheme doesn’t imply legal culpability or any sort of complicity for those who received gain. But we have a good model with the New Era scheme. There all involved met and set up a formula so those who had gained at the expense of others could share in some equitable fashion with the losses by returning a portion of the gains. Why could there not be such an attempt in this situation?"

"This, then, is my bottom line question for all involved…Petra People, those they question, all NCI financial ”winners” and “losers” alike, the Christian community itself. What would Jesus do here? Surely the Shepherd who Is the Way, the Truth, and the Life wants to lead us all into a place where He is glorified and the work of darkness defeated.”
Again we ask, where did the money go and what are people doing about it?

Reflection 6:
NCI is not over. It is still very much alive. It will continue to plague the CMC unless responsible parties do something about it. Without transparency and accountability and good people taking action, this monster will never be laid to rest. It is not just enough to raise one’s voice once or twice or ask a few questions or wait for some governmental body or Christian organisation to take action or to not take action. Resolutely confronting this corruption with others as long as necessary is required. A dark, sad shadow has been cast over the CMC for nearly two decades now. The issue though here is not the shadow. Rather it is the source of the shadow.
Again we ask, where did the money go and what are people doing about it?

Reflection 7:
Acting with moral courage is often risky. Our resilient virtue is stronger than resilient evil.
Again we ask, where did the money go and what are virtuous people doing about it?
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