Volunteers and employees of the Stichting Hulptroepen Alliantie, the non-profit organization of Sywert van Lienden and his associates, want them to return their millions of profits. They write that in a letter in the Volkskrant. Van Lienden, however, sticks to his original plan. He wants to invest the 9 million euros and use the returns for, among other things, cancer research in young people.
In the letter, the authors of Lienden, Damme and Van Gestel call for all profits to be returned to the Dutch government: “After this abuse of both public and personal trust, restitution is the only acceptable route to recovery.” In addition to the SHA, the House of Representatives also wants Van Lienden and his partners to repay the money.
‘Nothing to add to previous plans’
Van Lienden declined to answer the question of whether he will heed the call, but also says he has “nothing to add” to what he has already shared about those plans, and that he wants to invest the returns of the millions. in cancer research.
KWF Kankerbestrijding, among others, previously reported that it did not want to accept money from Van Lienden. According to the former CDA member, ‘practice shows’ that such statements in the media are always made bigger than they really are. He says he has not yet had any contact with KWF or other foundations. “So I can’t do much with it. It’s a long-term plan, so we’ll see.” He also says that he has already invested in cancer research and “does not expect any problems” with future investments.
‘Deceived, manipulated and lied to’
The authors of the letter say that they were ‘misled, manipulated and lied to for a year, just like the rest of the Netherlands’. They also write about the use of volunteers, employees, partners and donated resources to bring 40 million mouth caps to the Netherlands. In doing so, they acted on behalf of the Auxiliary Alliance Foundation. It was communicated internally that this was done selflessly and without profit motive.
Those involved then read in the Volkskrant that Sywert van Lienden and his business partners Bernd Damme and Camille van Gestel had concluded two deals with the government worth 100.8 million euros through the commercial company Relief Goods Alliance, whereby a profit was made.
Van Lienden invites the letter writers for a conversation. “I think this is something to discuss with each other and not in the media. Everyone is welcome for a chat.” According to van Lienden, the letter writers have also been invited before.
Departure from CDA ‘sensible’
Yesterday it was announced that Van Lienden had canceled his CDA membership. CDA ministers, Minister Ank Bijleveld and State Secretary Raymond Knops, now both call this ‘sensible’. ,,It was probably not an easy decision, but I can only respect it’, said Bijleveld.
It could also damage the party if Van Lienden had remained a member for a long time: “All CDA members are held accountable,” says Knops. He calls it ‘given the circumstances a good solution’ that the entrepreneur has left the party.
An investigation is currently being launched by the Ministry of Health into the deal with Van Lienden and his business partners. However, Knops already wants to say that it would be ‘not wrong reasoning’ if Van Lienden decides to repay his profits to the government.
Ignited by the enthusiasm of these three men, together with dozens of volunteers and companies, we have worked intensively at Aid troops over the past year
Below is the letter sent in as it appeared in the Volkskrant:
We are volunteers, employees and other involved parties who have committed themselves to the Auxiliary Alliance Foundation from March 2020: an initiative by Bernd Damme, Camille van Gestel and Sywert van Lienden to offer a ‘non-profit’ solution to the enormous shortage of mouth caps at hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities.
Ignited by the enthusiasm of these three men, we have worked closely together with dozens of volunteers and companies over the past year at Auxiliary Forces. And, as it turns out, they have witnessed up close how we have been misled, manipulated and lied to for over a year, just like the rest of the Netherlands.
We were euphoric when the first shipment of face masks arrived. We could have managed that with our unbridled commitment. After this first success, the government contract for 40 million mouth caps followed. Contrary to what Sywert is now suggesting in the media, this deal was also achieved thanks to the efforts of volunteers, employees, partners and donated resources. While Sywert seized every opportunity in the media to show his ‘good deeds’, volunteers and employees worked hard in the background, including on this government deal.
Some scoured China and the Netherlands in search of good products, others delved into legislation and checked the certificates, others made their test laboratory available or supervised the logistics process. A website was built, presentations put together and above all a team was built to get this gigantic job done.
Bernd, Camille and Sywert not only showed off to the outside world about their disinterestedness, but also did so internally and to cooperation partners. All requests to contribute to the ‘government contract’ were made on behalf of Stichting Hulptroepen, via emails bearing the name and logo of the foundation, from email addresses of the foundation. Skillfully, any commercial intent has been hidden from all these people who made the mask deliveries possible.
We knew nothing about it, however, and were impressed by how the men leveraged and mobilized their media fame, business experience and network. And that they did this selflessly ‘for nothing’. This spring, they emphasized that they had already been without a job for a year. With the science of today the same manipulative trick, used to give us an impulse to continue selflessly.
In recent weeks it has become clear that the founders have abused the legitimacy of the Foundation to enrich themselves. They used the benevolence shown by the foundation to credit their account with more than 28 million euros in profit.
You cannot get away with such deception, towards all people in care, towards everyone who has ordered from Aid troops, and towards everyone who has committed themselves selflessly.
The initiators now seem to be mainly concerned about their own image (‘The media are destroying my reputation’) or the legality of their agreement. What they still don’t seem to realize is the injustice they have done to their own volunteers, employees and other people directly involved, people they worked with on a daily basis. By pretending to be the foremen of a pure charity for months, Bernd, Camille and Sywert have cheated us and abused our goodwill. In doing so, they have scandalously infringed on our moral integrity, and they have damaged confidence in social initiatives throughout the Netherlands. Without the lying, none of us would have cooperated and the trio would never have managed to do this.
Each and every one of us has been lied to for a year, some of us every day. Society and we have been misled for personal gain and that must be reversed. You cannot get away with such deception, towards all people in care, towards everyone who has ordered from Auxiliary Forces, and towards everyone who has committed themselves selflessly.
The sophisticated attempt to create a legal cloud of fog (from invoking a duty of confidentiality to scattering the names of private limited companies) and to emphasize that the situation is very complex must not succeed. It is not complex, but very simple: this multi-million dollar deal could never have happened without the contributions of all these volunteers and other forces, who would never have cooperated if they had not been misled in this way. A half-hearted promise from one of the three founders that the return of the money will benefit social causes is not enough. The possibility of any profit remaining in the hands of the promoters is unpalatable.
We only committed ourselves on the assumption that any margin would be repaid in full to the government. And that is our requirement. That is why we once again publicly appeal to Bernd Damme, Camille van Gestel and Sywert van Lienden, both individually and jointly, as Relief Goods Alliance BV: return the entire profit to the government. It is ill-gotten money that belongs to society, and that has been brought in thanks to the manipulation of dozens of people directly involved. Refunds, after this abuse of both public and personal trust, are the only acceptable route to recovery.
React can be found at the bottom of this article. Only comments with a full name will be posted. We do that because we want a debate with people who stand for what they say, and who put their name on it. If you still need to enter your name, you can do so by clicking ‘Login’ at the top right of our site.
Check out our most viewed news videos in the playlist below:
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and never miss a thing from the stars.