Heerhugowaard, 24 July 2020 Jonathan van der L. , former director of the charity foundation Hippo Mundo Charity (HMC), has to repay more than 8 million euros plus interest to HMC on the basis of a civil judgment. The verdict came on 24 July 2020 from the District Court of Central Netherlands.
‘This verdict is very gratifying for HMC, it is as clear as we could wish for,’ says David Nooitgedagt, spokesman of the HMC foundation.
The verdict meets the full claim of HMC with regard to money to be repaid, except for a relatively negligible amount of 4,000 euro.
Van der L. is being prosecuted for the same offences in a criminal case in which he is charged with large-scale fraud, money laundering, forgery of documents and participation in a criminal organisation.
‘This first civil judgment proves that the judiciary in the Netherlands is capable of dealing with fraudsters. The criminal interviews show how meticulously Van der L. prepared his fraud and tried to pose as a whistleblower and victim of a criminal environment,’ says Nooitgedagt.
The verdict describes Van der L.’s actions as very seriously culpable and the court dismisses the defences with which Van der L. tried to involve the (Norwegian) religious community Brunstad Christian Church (BCC) and its former administrators in the case: ‘Van der L.’s actions were solely guided by his goal of enriching himself as quickly as possible at the expense of the organization to which he had been attached for years and in which he had a great deal of influence’, according to the court.
Van der L. has worked closely with the NRC Handelsblad in the creation of a series of negative articles about the faith community. There are indications that Van der L., while still a director of HMC and in the process of carrying out his fraud, commissioned an influence campaign by the Israeli company Psy-Group, an organization which The New Yorker has previously reported on.
Nooitgedagt: ‘To put it mildly, it’s not easy to be targeted by operations of this nature and magnitude. HMC has incurred many costs and had to make a great effort to defend itself against the effects of the false and misleading information spread to the Tax and Customs Administration, banks and other relations.’ According to Nooitgedagt, this verdict is a first step towards bringing the truth of what happened into the light of day.
The board of HMC hopes that in the coming period it will again be able to concentrate fully on its objective, namely the spending of its assets on missionary projects abroad.