Promotion of Prem Rawat in Europe
In terms of income generation Europe has been second only to the US for those organisations which promote Prem Rawat, more pertinently Europe has proved a net generator of funds which have been channelled for use to the US, Australia and other non European countries. In 2005 the primary channel for International funding of Prem Rawat's promotional activities is the Swiss based Elan Vital Foundation.
From the mid 1970s until the end of the 1990s a Divine Light Mission or Elan Vital, structured on the closed member association model was in existence in most western European countries, although the arrangements in the UK were always at variance to the rest of Europe. The UK arrangements were predicated on the provisions for Charitable status and the consequent tax exemptions available.
In the late 1990s the promotion of Prem Rawat in Europe became increasingly focussed on the distribution of videos and audio tapes and on satellite broadcasting. Initially marketed as a subscription accessed service this ultimately became a free to air service supported by donation.
Apparently on the basis of an efficiency assessment the majority of the European Elan Vitals were closed down prior to 2001 with Elan Vital [UK] retaining responsibility for the collection of Satellite subscriptions from UK followers while the remainder of Europe was required to deal with a Spanish based entity with a bank account in the name of Asociacion Elan Communications, subsequently operating under the name Eurcommunications.
Eurcommunications was a subsidiary of Visions International, the trading subsidiary of Elan Vital Inc.[US] - an entity registered as a 'church' in the US. Subscription Television broadcasts of Prem Rawat ceased in 2003 and Eurcommunications commenced purchasing free to air programming supported by donations. Eurcommunications received £1,165,030 of Charitable funds from Elan Vital [UK] between April 2002 and December 2008.
An entity called Fundacion Elan Vital was set up in Spain in 1999 and a web address using this name was part of the Elan Vital contact system, although the name of the web site is given as Fundazion La Paz Es Posible.
Promotion of Prem Rawat in the United Kingdom
Divine Light Mission
England was Prem Rawat's first destination in his journeys outside of India in 1971. The formation of a UK Divine Light Mission, following this visit was an ad hoc affair and it was not until June 1972 that a Trust Deed was created and the organisation finally gained Registered Charitable status in England and Wales in October 1972. This single Registered Charity served as a locus for the whole of the UK and no comparable organisation seems to have been created under Scottish Law although an Elan Vital organisation has been created under Northern Ireland administrative arrangements. The objects of the English/Welsh Charity - called The Divine Light Mission, still available on the Charity commission website were as follows:
TO ADVANCE RELIGION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF SRI HANS JI GURU MAHARAJA AND SRI SANTA JI GURU MAHARAH [sic] BY PROMOTING THE KNOWLEDGE THAT GOD IS THE SUPREME CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE: THE REALISATION OF GOD WITHOUT NOMINATIONAL BIAS; THE RELIEF OF PREVENTION OF SUFFERING BOTH MENTAL AND PHYSICAL OCCASIONED BY POVERTY, ILL HEALTH AND THE ABUSE OF DRUGS
During the 1970s, although many activities in the UK were carried out in the name of Divine Light Mission, the liabilities for these activities were vested in a chaotic profusion of businesses, Limited Companies, private ownerships and individual guarantors, lease holders and contract signatories. Many of the businesses, both sole trader operations and Limited Companies incorporated the Divine United Organization name although none had any direct legal relationship with either the UK Divine Light Mission or the Indian DUO.
Whether by design or accident the chaotic arrangements surrounding the UK DLM provided an effective screen of opacity behind which both donated funds and volunteer labour were applied to ill defined purposes over which neither the donors nor the volunteers had control or influence. Of the various businesses associated with DLM [UK] none enjoyed any sustained success and were closed down by David Lovejoy during his tenure as National Co-ordinator DUO [UK] in 1975 and by the time DLM [UK] was closed as a charity in 1995 it had no declared relationship with any commercial operation other than its wholly owned subsidiary DLM Ltd.
The fund raising activities of DLM [UK] were targeted primarily at those followers of Prem Rawat who were resident in the UK and the methods employed were, in that context not remarkable. What perhaps should have been of concern was that collected funds were being applied to purposes other than those for which they were expressly collected. One of the most glaringly anomalous arrangements concerns a valuable residential property known as Swiss House, or more commonly to Prem Rawat's followers - the Divine Residence.
In 1972 the lease on a property in Woodside Avenue, north London was acquired and this then served as Prem Rawat's home while he was in the UK. In response to Prem Rawat's expressed views that the Woodside Avenue property was not adequate to his needs, and that he preferred the security of a free hold property, successive General Secretaries of DLM [UK] made appeals for funds to acquire a free hold property to serve as Prem Rawat's UK residence. In 1974 a property called Swiss House, located in the 'stock broker belt' of Colley Hill, near Reigate, Surrey was acquired on a lease hold basis. It is unclear in whose name the lease was acquired or what funds were used to support the acquisition. The terms of this acquisition were never made clear to the mass of Prem Rawat's followers in the UK and there seems to have been a general 'assumption' that a mortgage was held on the property and that DLM [UK] was involved in the progressive purchase of equity. In fact there is no evidence despite the considerable fund raising effort by DLM [UK] that the organisation ever owned any equity in any property, other than the "Palace of Peace" an old cinema in Dulwich, South London that had been the centre of DLM activities until it became too large for the reduced number of premies and it seems likely that funds raised by or at least via DLM [UK] were used to support the continued leasehold of the Swiss House property until 8th March 1989 when the Freehold of the property was acquired by the SEVA Corporation of America. SEVA CoA is the entity which owns many of the assets exclusively enjoyed by Prem Rawat. SEVA's UK contact is c/o Mssrs Rakisons, 27, Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1NF
The source of SEVA's funds for this 1989 acquisition are unknown, - SEVA does not engage in trade and therefore has no obvious source of income. Prem Rawat's followers contributed substantial funds at the behest of Officers of The Divine Light Mission, with the expectation that what by then was a Registered Charity would use those funds to acquire a free hold property. At no time did DLM [UK] make any declaration in respect of its funding of the Swiss House property. Swiss House appears on the UK Land Registry under the Title Number SY356311.
In 1991 the Elan Vital Foundation, an entity created under Swiss Law, acted as Settlor to create, under the Trust Laws of England and Wales an organisation called Elan Vital, this organisation was granted Registered Charity status in 1993 as an Education Charity. According to the Trust Deed of 22 October 1991 the stated Object of Elan Vital [UK] is "To Advance the Education in the Understanding and Realisation of Human Potential through Self-Knowledge based upon the Teachings of Prem Pal Singh Rawat k/a Maharaji". No explanation is given as to what this statement of Objects actually means which is fair enough as it is meaningless.
Between 1993 and 1996 Elan Vital [UK] and The Divine Light Mission [UK] existed in parallel. Following the public revelation of the Jagdeo abuse accusations, Elan Vital [UK] claimed to have had no relationship with DLM [UK], this claim was shown to be false on a number of grounds. The relationship between the two organizations is demonstrated clearly by Elan Vital [UK] having granted £2000 of Charitable funds to DLM [UK] in 1995 and to have paid a £500 tax bill charged to DLM [UK], in 1996. To all intents Elan Vital [UK] is the successor organisation to The Divine Light Mission [UK].
Registered Charity status entails the legal requirement to publish full annual accounts and this information allows greater insight into the operation of Elan Vital [UK] than into any other Prem Rawat promoting organization.
The accounts of Elan Vital [UK] reveal a significant growth in income from £703,131 declared for the year preceding April 1996 increasing to £1,821,948 for the financial year ending March 2002; the general upward trend continued through to 2004 when income reached £2,080,637, and remained at around £2 million per annum until 2008 when reported income fell to £1,662,070. The source of this income was primarily donation and gift, all potentially attracting a 28% Tax reimbursement from the UK Treasury. The UK accounts also reveal that Elan Vital [UK] was increasingly transferring a large proportion of its income to other Elan Vital organisations which do not publish details of their financial activities, thus while Elan Vital [UK] was accruing ever larger Charitable income the use of this income was increasingly being hidden from public scrutiny.
Elan Vital [UK] classifies its activities into local, national and international categories. Local and national refer to activities carried out directly under the auspices of the Elan Vital [UK], international however refers not to any organisational involvement of Elan Vital but to the transfer of resources, described as Grants by Elan Vital, to other Prem Rawat promoting organizations operating in other countries.
From a position where in the year ended March 1996 just 31% of Elan Vital's total income, a sum of £218,500, was transferred abroad in the form of Grants, by March 2002 this figure had grown to 63% of total income and by December 2008 the total Charitable funds sent abroad since 1996 amounted to £11,237,675. Prime recipients of this Grant giving are the Elan Vital Foundation, the Swiss based parent of Elan Vital [UK], which by the end of 2008 had received a total of £5,328,989, Elan Vital Inc.[US] which received £2,007,370 and Eurcommunications which received £1,610,271 from Elan Vital [UK] between 1996 and 2008. The use to which these Charitable funds are put is entirely obscured, in the case of EVF by Swiss confidentiality laws, in the case of EV Inc. by its 'church' status and in the case of Eurcommunications by its private business status. While the use of funds in the UK is explained by Elan Vital [UK] as supporting a number of speaking and video events, the Charity is now in a position because of its Grant giving, where the majority of its funds are being used for undeclared purposes and without any apparent charitable or philanthropic objective. This situation has been compounded by grants totalling £1,296,594 being gifted in the 2006 - 2008 to private Trusts operating Prem Rawat's private jets.
In 1999 Elan Vital Ltd handled Registration for all international attendees at an event held at the Ivory's Rock Conference Centre in Australia, IRCC is owned by Elan Vital
Incorporated of Australia. Charges for events by a UK Charity should not within the terms of Charity Law lead to a restriction on public access to the activities supported by
that Charity, this is particularly relevant as Elan Vital [UK] has made Grants of over £600,000 to its Australian 'cousin'. That the high level of charges being levied and the
manner in which this was done, was verging on a contravention of UK Charity Law and that this was known to Elan Vital is demonstrated by an internal Elan Vital Inc.[Aus.]
document which makes the following comment in relation to this registration handling operation -
However, a glance at the Amaroo registration package 'Booking and Entry Conditions' shows how close to the legal horizon EV (UK) sails, stating bluntly that 'registration is US$410' (whereon one enters into a legal contract with EV (UK), subject to the usual raft of cancellation penalties, booking and entry conditions etc. - understandable for any event manager).
The question of why a UK 'educational' Charity should engage in activities which it understands 'sail close to the legal horizon' remains unanswered.
In 2010 Elan Vital changed its name to "Human Development Through Self Knowledge" - HDSK, it remains registered as a
Charity in England and Wales. Charity Registration No. 1016818.
Office address: 69, Church Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 2BB
The Trustees as of June 2010 were:
Roland Peter Klepzig, Susan Gower Robinson, James Shaw and Fredrick Grant.
Promotion of Prem Rawat in Switzerland (World wide)
The Elan Vital Foundation was created as a Foundation under Swiss Law in or around 1983. The President of Divine Light Mission Inc.[US] at that time was Michael Dettmers. In April 2000 he made the following public comments about the Elan Vital Foundation -
"In the late 70's, one of my responsibilities was to reorganise Divine Light Mission, in part because there was considerable litigation over the name in India and elsewhere caused by the dispute between Maharaji and his mother.
The Swiss Foundation became a hub (not the legal owner) for the overall co-ordination of most of the independent, not-for-profit Élan Vital organizations around the world. This structure simplified the organization and financing of world-wide programs, festivals, tours, and all of their related support activities.
It is my estimate that these Élan Vital related activities generated about 100M world-wide especially when you include the revenues derived from product sales, food services, and the airline tickets, car rentals, and hotel accommodations for attendees at the numerous events organised all over the world. Of course, all of these entities were not owned or consolidated under one company or organization. They were spread out over several businesses and organizations in many countries."
Apart from the sheer scale of the international business of which the EVF became the 'hub' what is most significant is that control of EVF derives from the US Elan Vital operation. The precise provisions of the EVF constitution remain secret, something which is compounded by the linkage to the equally closed 'church' organisation that has been Elan Vital Inc.[US].
It is the assertion of a number of commentators that the primary funding concern of the EVF has for many years been the facilitation of Prem Rawat to travel abroad, the EVF meeting the leasing, maintenance, fuelling and hangarage costs of Prem Rawat's succession of Executive Jets. The costs of this are put at $US 4.5 million dollars per annum. On its website EVF claims the following distribution of resources: International Tours & Events 91%, Administration etc. 9%. To avoid any conflict with the strict local laws on the use of charitable funds, no Swiss Elan Vital was ever created.
Promotion of Prem Rawat in The Netherlands (World wide)
In 2008 a Corporate Trust was registered in the Netherlands as STICHTING WORDS OF PEACE GLOBAL with an address given as Foundation Words of Peace Global, P.O Box 2745, 1000CS Amsterdam. The WOPG website states that it operates out of offices in Spain. Words of Peace has been used for a number of years as the branding title of Rawat's programmes produced for cable and satellite TV broadcast.