Michael Dettmers, Former Personal Assistant to Prem Rawat Internet Revelations

Date: Tues, Oct 24, 2000 at 16:04:53 (GMT)
From: Happy
Email: happyheretic@hotmail.com
To: Michael Dettmers
Subject: The Swiss Foundation
Message:

Michael,
I, as so many others, thank you for coming out, revealing things that we perhaps partly knew already, but it is different to hear it from somebody who actually was there. A first hand account is always a first hand account, something really different, which nobody can deny. I am glad you took the courage to reveal these things. It shows integrity from your part.

I understand that it takes time to open up and let things out, also that you still might feel certain obligations/problems due to your 'agreeement'. Still, I think it would make an enormous difference if you could tell us a little more about your own involvement with M's financial matters. For instance, what was your role with respect to the Swiss Foundation? Was money, given in order to 'spread Knowledge', laundred for M's personal use? The fact that a Swiss bank account was used - and perhaps still is in use - suggests that something fishy was going on? I would appreciate if you would take the time to clarify these matters.

Happy

Date: Tues, Oct 24, 2000 at 20:50:34 (GMT)
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: Happy
Subject: The Swiss Foundation
Message:

The Swiss Foundation to which you refer is called the Élan Vital Foundation. As I briefly explained in my post below to Eddy The Turtle, one of my responsibilities was to re-organize Divine Light Mission for reasons. Also, there was considerable litigation over the DLM name in India and elsewhere caused by the dispute between Maharaji and his mother. I organized, and was a Director of, the Swiss Foundation which served as a hub (not the legal owner) for the overall coordination of most of the independent, not-for-profit DLM/Élan Vital organizations around the world. This structure simplified the organization and financing of worldwide programs, festivals, tours, and all of their related support activities. The funds were not used for Maharaji's personal use, nor was any money ever laundered. The Swiss authorities govern their Foundations with an iron hand, tolerating absolutely no latitude with their strict regulations.

I created the Foundation in Switzerland because it was widely recognized by many international organizations as a neutral location from which to conduct worldwide operations. And, obviously, all of them had Swiss bank accounts. In my opinion, there is nothing sinister about a Swiss Bank account. Switzerland used to be famous for its bank secrecy laws but they have been greatly diminished in our increasingly global economy, and they did not apply if suspected criminal activity was being conducted through them, which certainly was not the case under my watch. Since I did not want to repeat the mistake of having Maharaji pigeonholed as the Chief Minister of a USA church, a Swiss base for the Foundation seemed more suitable, reflecting the international scope of his mission.

Michael

Date: Tues, Oct 24, 2000 at 21:48:18 (GMT)
From: Ana T
Email: None
To: Michael Dettmers
Subject: The Swiss Foundation - Onae Trust ?
Message:

Hi Michael,

Was the Onae Trust part of the Swiss machinations of EV/DLM? I noted they were involved with Prem Mark and the Rainbow Grocery Acquisition. Onae Trust is listed in Deltek SEC filings and I'm curious if the trust has changed hands from the Rainbow Grocery days.

Thanks,
Ana T

Date: Tues, Oct 24, 2000 at 22:13:48 (GMT)
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: Ana T
Subject: The Swiss Foundation - Onae Trust ?
Message:

Ana T

I would be crossing a fine line if I discussed anything about Maharaji's corporate structure. I have no problem discussing, in general terms, the Elan Vital Foundation because many organizers know about it and it was used exclusively for the purposes I outlined above. However, I am not at liberty to discuss the Onae Trust. Also, I have no idea what changes may have been made to the overall structure during the last decade or so, but I am sure that things must have evolved since then.

Michael


Date: Wed, Oct 25, 2000 at 11:52:01 (GMT)
From: EddyTheTurtle
Email: None
To: M Dettmers
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

Michael
Sorry , but you dont create a Swiss foundation to act as a hub for non-profit organisations…

You say the structure simplified the organisation and financing of world wide programs..

On the contrary, creating any organisation in Switzerland is extremely costly and from the point of logistics somewhat convoluted…Much simpler and less costly to handle this out of the US or UK…whereas u need about 100K USD in switzerland about from the high legal and professional costs which is another 5-10k usd

Example..

It costs only 150 USD to set up a limited company in the UK or US

****************************************************************

There are only two reasons for creating a Swiss foundation:

1. Either you are a large organisation like the Red Cross or UN and you have deep pockets …

2. Or you want secrecy

May I suggest that according to your testimony option 1 is certainly out of the question, as you said DLM/EV was constantly in the red..

That only leaves the second option…

If you want any further info on Swiss foundations pls let me know…

Date: Thurs, Oct 26, 2000 at 02:23:50 (GMT)
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: EddyTheTurtle
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

Eddy:

You are entitled to your opinion and, I'm sure if you were in my position, you may have done things differently.

In any case, I created the Élan Vital Foundation in Switzerland in 1979 and not in the USA or the UK for several reasons. First, Maharaji had recently disbanded Denver as his International Headquarters, so it wouldn't make much sense to turn around and set up the new international coordinating structure in the USA. Nor would the UK be a suitable choice because we had just won a long drawn-out battle with the UK Charity Commissioners over the control of DLM against Maharaji's mother who had laid claim to it, and we didn't want to have to deal with them to make whatever changes were necessary to fulfill the Foundation's aims.

Second, we were able to start fresh in Switzerland and set up a Foundation whose aims and objectives accurately reflected what it was intended to do, that is to support Maharaji's programs and tours around the world.

Third, we named it the Élan Vital Foundation (the term was coined by the French philosopher Henri Bergson and means "life force") because the name did not need to be translated in all of the countries where DLM existed. And it wasn't too difficult to have all of the DLM's around the world change their names to Élan Vital. Even though these newly named Élan Vital organizations were independent of each other, they were able to contribute some of their funds to its sister organization in Switzerland because their purposes were aligned and their names were the same.

Fourth, from an international perspective, Switzerland is very highly regarded and its strict laws governing Foundations is well known, again making it easier for countries around the world to gain permission, if such was required, to contribute some of its funds to the Foundation.

Finally, Maharaji had devotees around the world, including Switzerland, who were willing to volunteer their time and money to handle the logistics and costs, so that was not really an issue in this case. I was the only non-Swiss Director. The foundation presented its books and records for review to the Swiss authorities every year and there was no latitude to spend the funds on anything other than for its stated aims and objectives. From my perspective, the structure fulfilled its intended purpose very well. What, if anything, has become of it since I left, I have no idea.

I will grant you one point, however. Despite the Foundation's struggles with cash flow and meeting expenses as I mentioned in an earlier post, that factor didn't dampen our delusions of grandeur. We may not have been the UN or the Red Cross, but we were certain that it was only a matter of time before Maharaj's mission dwarfed those organizations, and we would be ready.

Michael

Date: Thurs, Oct 26, 2000 at 10:38:32 (GMT)
From: TeddyTheTurtle
Email: None
To: Michael Dettmers
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

Mike

You say that M disbanded his international HQ in Denver and therefore it did not make sense to have the foundation in the usa. I dont see really the connection between the two, what was the reason M disbanded his international hq in denver?. He or someone obviously decided that international was not gona come out of usa period. Was the IRS chasing that hard…?

You also say that DLM as a registered charity in the uk was going through legal problems re: Mataji. But you would have had to register EV anyway as a charity again in the UK so you would have had to deal with the charities commision.

As you know, running a foundation in switzerland requires significant legal and financial expertise , and I would be surprised if the swiss premies were up to that task.

You are telling us that the CEO or the Commander in Chief and his HQ staff are based in one country (us) whereas the foundation and the logistics of running an international organisation is based in another countery who's mother tongue is an obsecure dielect of german, just because M has some local premies and it is a prestigous location. Sorry it does not make much sense.

Also Mike, remember in those days ('79) I would be extremely surprised if such a complex idea of running a swiss international foundation has come from premies. We were running soup kitchens and launderets and car wash shops, albeit loss making.

It sounds to me the whole idea came from very astute financial advisors…

Date: Thurs, Oct 26, 2000 at 20:40:53 (GMT)
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: TeddyTheTurtle
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

Teddy and Eddy the Turtles,

I will explain why M disbanded Denver as DLM HQ when I respond to Joe and Susan's question about that period. You will see that it had nothing to do with the IRS, nor did M make Switzerland his new HQ. It was simply the place where the activities I described in my earlier post were funded and coordinated.

Your point in paragraph 2 is exactly why we didn't want to get further involved with the UK Charity Commissioners.

I think that many premies, some of whom may now be ex-premies for all I know, will find your suggestion that the Swiss premies were not up to the task, or that most premies were only capable of running soup kitchens, launderettes and car washes at a loss, to be insulting. While what you say may be have been true in some cases, it does not reflect the capabilities of premies in general, nor those with whom I worked.

I have always acknowledged that I secured expert legal and financial advice, but the idea of coordinating the Élan Vital operations out of Switzerland was my idea. TM (Transcendental Meditation) had had its international HQ there for years.

Michael

Date: Fri, Oct 27, 2000 at 16:16:02 (GMT)
From: EddyTheTurtle
Email: None
To: Michael Dettmers
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

SOrry…Mike..you misconstrued what I said. I am not insulting premies, I was one. The reality of the situation is that most premie businesses that I was aware of, did not require the level of sophistication of a swiss foundation.

Your explanation of denver still does not answer why not relocate hq to somewhere else in the usa.

You mention TM having its international hq in switzerland…sure , but did they also have a swiss foundation.

One of the objectives of a swiss foundation, is that it actually hides the eventual benefeciaries or owners. The name 'foundation' is confusing and implies some kind of charitable status, in fact it is not. It is a construct that can be used for annonymous asset holdings.

By the way, are you familiar with a Miami company sold in the mid 80's called 'Star enterprises' or a similar sounding name. The person who bought it told me that it belonged to a Mr Singh, and since it is a jet fitting business based in Miami, I thought there may be a connection with M. Were you involved in anyway with this outfit?

Date: Fri, Oct 27, 2000 at 20:29:42 (GMT)
From: a0aji
Email: and_on_anand@yahoo.com
To: thread
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

What about AITTA? What was the story on that?

Date: Fri, Oct 27, 2000 at 18:29:32 (GMT)
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: EddyTheTurtle
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

I do not know anything about Star Enterprises.

I will explain about the disbanding of the HQ when I respond to Joe's question.

I don't know anything about the inner workings of TM.

Michael

Date: Fri, Oct 27, 2000 at 01:29:40 (GMT)
From: Jim
Email: None
To: Michael Dettmers
Subject: Michael, I've got a burning question for you?
Message:

Did you ever in a million years imagine that you'd be explaining yourself to someone called Teddy the Turtle?

The Lord works in mysterious ways, huh?

:)

Date: Fri, Oct 27, 2000 at 13:15:50 (GMT)
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: Jim
Subject: Michael, I've got a burning question for you?
Message:

No I didn't. Jim, does this mean that I'm finally on the road to true enlightenment?

Michael

Message:

Date: Thurs, Oct 26, 2000 at 02:35:49 (GMT)
From: Rob
Email: None
To: Michael Dettmers
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

Good evening Michael,

You know, your explanation here sounds perfectly reasonable and not at all sinister, it just puzzles me as to why Elan Vital don't open up more on their website and lay everything out in the open.

Admittedly I wouldn't have thought Switzerland was the only viable alternative, given the high cost of doing business there - I would have looked at different off-shore locations, like Jersey, Bermuda etc, what no matter.

Still one thing bothers me. If I'm getting the correct message from what you are saying here, all their finances are completely above-board and accountable, so why not just publish audited accounts for each Elan Vital worldwide and put an end to all the speculation? This is not a 'loaded' question, I genuinely do not see a problem if they are squeaky clean.

Did you ever suggest as much in your term of office?

Date: Thurs, Oct 26, 2000 at 03:05:47 (GMT)
From: Michael Dettmers
Email: dettmers@gylanix.com
To: Rob
Subject: The Swiss foundation
Message:

Rob,

No, I never suggested as much, nor was there ever a request to do so. Of course, when I was in office, the internet didn't exist .

You will have to ask EV why they don't publish their numbers. You ask a very good question.

Michael