Board of Education issues permit
Second Scientology School
October 2, 2001
The Board of Education has issued a permit for a private teacher and Scientologist to run a private primary school. (sda)
This makes the second school in Zurich operated by Scientologists. Robert Steinegger of the Board of Education confirmed upon inquiry that the permit had been issued to school director Annelise Rothen on Monday. School is supposed to start after the fall vacation with 20 school children in all six primary school grades. Instruction will be taken care of by Rothen and another teacher. The two women have already been teaching privately for several years. Their teaching has been evaluated several times and has given rise to no objections, said Steinegger. The Board of Education has already issued one permit in May for a school which is operated according to Scientology principles. According to Steinegger, the same set of criteria was used this time as last time for approval.
Zurich. The Zurich Education Council has granted primary school teacher Lisbeth Ambuehl a permit to operate the "Ziel" private school in the City of Zurich. "Ziel" is a daughter organization of Scientology. The Education Council had been aware of the Scientology background, said Robert Steinegger of the legal department of the public school office of the Canton of Zurich upon inquiry. He said the permit had been granted because the instruction has so far given nobody cause to complain.
VPM Teachers want private school
June 16, 1999
Two VPM teachers want to open a private school in Rudolfstetten. The Aargau Education Board has postponed making a decision.
by Hugo Stamm
An application for a building permit has been the source of some discussion for a couple of weeks in the Mutschellen community of Rudolfstetten. Beatrice Deubelbeiss and Renata Rapp want to convert a room in a single family house at 72c Oberen Dorfstrasse and operate a private school (TA from Tuesday reported). The two women are long-term adherents of the VPM psycho-group (Verein zur Foerderung der Psychologischen Menschenkenntnis / [Association for the Advancement of Psychological Human Understanding]). A class with a maximum of nine students is planned. If the two teachers should succeed with their private school, they would want to expand it and rent additional rooms in the vicinity. The teachers would want to open the school at the end of this summer's vacation and they have filed with the Aargau Education Department.
Experiences with Scientology school
The education officials have put the two teachers on hold for the time being until additional information is provided. Apparently the Aargau Education Board has become sensitized by the long-term dispute with the Scientologists, who wanted to open a private school in Waltenswil a couple of years ago. At that time the officials struck down in the second session the approval which had already been given, which led to serious controversy. However, the Federal Court supported the officials' decision in June 1997.
The additional information requested on the school on Rudolfstetten has to do with the question of trustworthiness. Since the school application was submitted by two private persons and not by an organization, as it was with the Scientology school, the application has an essentially better chance of being approved.
Rumors and speculation about the private school caused the school office to write all parents in Rudolfstetten a letter. It said, "We are of the opinion that the sentiments about our ability to teach is a personal matter, so long as nothing negative influences the instruction." Beatrice Deubelbeiss is said to be a competent, employed teacher. Besides that, the discussion moved the SP faction to submit an inquiry at the Great Council. In it the administration was asked to what extent it was willing to protect families from general damages by a VPM school.
"Students trained as fighters"
Beatrice Deubelbeiss is presently the principal of the Rudolfstetten village school. She intends to give up this post, but still work half-time with the public schools. Renata Rapp is an instructor in Effretikon and has a psychological practice in Zurich. In 1991, both teachers signed a VPM insert with the martial title, "Against organized desk murder." In it the two teachers along with over 1,000 VPM adherents defended themselves against critical publications. "This murderous campaign of incitement has led to a pogrom-like mood against us," said the insert. The alleged slander which was primarily directed against the technical director, Annemarie Buchholz-Kaiser, was said to "fit into the fascistic mold."
The two teachers also coauthored the VPM books "Garrison Schools." In them the VPM adherents assert that school reformers and the New Left have the goal of undermining and destroying state and schools. Literally it says that "the theoretical lines of tradition align with Marx, Lenin and Stalin," and the practical instructions originate from Mussolini and Che Guevara, among others. Students are alleged to be made "aggressive and violent" by the leftwing teachers, and to be turned into brutalized, individual fighters, who "are to be used as the "revolutionary potential" of tomorrow, say the books which were coauthored by the two teachers in Rudolfstetten.
Scientologist took in millions
A former Scientologist did over 300 investors out of 22 million franks
Despite that he does not want to go to prison
March 3, 2001
by Hugo Stamm
At the end of the 1980s and early 1990s Scientologists caused financial damages of about 100 million franks with partially fraudulent businesses. One of them, a 57-year-old attorney, former magistrate and high-ranking bank employee, went before the superior court on Friday. He had relieved German investors of 22 million franks, thereby earning himself two years nine months prison from the district court.
The 40-year-old codefendant who was responsible for the computer programming and had received six months imprisonment in the first trial said it clear as a bell about the proceedings, "If we would not have been Scientologists, then we would not be standing here today, that is guaranteed." With that in mind an invisible "codefendant" who had not even been accused was sitting on the bench with the other defendants: the Scientology movement, which by many votes was a central theme.
The primary reason: the dear money plays a dominant role in the organization. Both accused were heavily in debt so that they could pay the "church" 350,000 franks and 450,000 franks respectively for courses and services. Besides that the attorney had bought worthless pictures of sect founder Ron Hubbard for hundreds of thousands of franks and had amassed debts of 3.5 million franks.
"Rothschild Bank" founded
Once the lead defendant had stumbled across a lavishly gushing source of money there was no stopping him. He sought out investors of hard cash for a Munich businessman in southern Germany. In newspaper inserts the two passed themselves off as the "Federal Association of American Banks" and promised 9 to 10 percent interest. But behind that were only two offices which bore the reassuring name of "Rothschild Bank." From 1991 to 1994 the attorney took in money, mostly cash, in Zurich, which he then hand-carried to Munich. In return he reaped 600,000 franks in commission from his business partner. When their cover was blown, the accomplice in Munich vanished - and with him most of the money. He has still not surfaced.
The 40-year-old codefendant had worked for his Scientology colleague as a computer technician. The district court viewed that as complicity and commercial fraud and required the two ex-Scientologists to compensate for the millions in damages jointly. They appealed that because they regarded the sentence as too much. The primary defendant asked the superior court for a sentence reduction to a maximum of 18 months in prison suspended and the codefendant wanted exoneration.
The accused lawyer asserted that he had completely trusted his Munich business partner. He said he had no suspicion that his partner could have embezzled any money until shortly before the crash. His attorney had stated there was a connection to the many courses which his client had taken with Scientology: he said his client had been strongly mentally influenced and had learned to suppress doubts. Besides that the courses were said to have strongly modified structural thought.
His codefendant and his attorney made an even stronger case. They spoke of a loss of ability to differentiate, of totalitarian systems and of inquisitorial proceedings and brainwashing. The judges also asked question after question about Scientology. But they have not yet dismissed any part of the conviction.
Scientologist swindled millions
February 11, 2000
A former Scientologist bilked German investors out of 15 million franks. Now he has been sentenced to two years, 9 months imprisonment.
by Peter Johannes Meier
It was a story-book career: while still in law school, he was a member of a prestigious society, passed the bar exam and became investigative magistrate. Then the switch into the financial area. On the job training in bank associations: 1977, finance chief of the SBG branch in Biel; 1981, procurator of the SKA in Thun. Followed in the mid '80s by the jump to independence as an investment advisor. Business ran well for a few years, then the tide turned. In working with Munich con man Ulrich Tiggelbeck, Hans Rohner (name changed) lost 500,000 franks of his own money.
Rohner also got more involved with the Scientologists. For several hundred thousand franks, he acquired lithographs of sect founder Ron Hubbard. He wanted the profit from resale to go to the Scientologists. That was a letdown. Nobody wanted the Hubbards; today Rohner is still sitting on dozens of them. He gave the Dianeticians about 450,000 franks for continuing education courses. In return he acquired a position in the sect with the impressive-sounding name of "Operating Thetan 5." What was also impressive was his mountain of debt; by 1991, that had risen to 3.5 million franks.
False "federal association"
At this time, Rohner once again went back into business with Tiggelbeck. The two advertised in German newspapers under the contrived name of "Federal Association of American Banks" and offered cash investments with yearly dividends of 9 to 10 percent. A business office was located on Stampfenbach Street in Zurich.
By using the description "Federal Association," they gave the impression that big-name American banks stood behind the institute. In reality, the "association" consisted of two office service centers with the important-sounding names of "Rothschild Bank" and "First American Insurance and Banking Corporation." For the "First American" an office service was set up on New York's Wall Street which forwarded inquiries directly back to Tiggelbeck in Germany. To add to the delusion, the customers were told that their money was insured against loss by the American states' deposit insurance corporation. The major portion of the customers' money, meanwhile, was being sent by Rohner to his partner Tiggelbeck in Munich. He collected his commission from that.
In 1992, Rohner moved in with his colleague Gregor Pfister (name changed). He was also involved with the Scientologists, which, according to him, cost him about 350,000 franks. The man, who is 39 years old today, headed an EDP system in a Swiss office of the front bank. He admitted to the court that he had his suspicions that something was not right with the business he was engaged in.
In November 1993 the thing threatened to blow up. A customer who was on a trip to America wanted to take the opportunity to visit the branch on Wall Street. With his home-made company plaques, Rohner traveled to New York and mounted them at 67 Wall Street. A reception lady was hired - the customer came and was impressed. He recommended the front company to another 20 people.
In spring 1994, a German investor realized that the front company was not at all a member of the named deposit insurance corporation. Then Tiggelbeck suddenly disappeared. The deal blew up, charges rained down.
Last summer Rohner and Pfister stood before the Zurich district court (TA of 8 July 1999). The charges accused them of commercial fraud and falsification of documents. The proceedings were not contested by the accused, who have since left Scientology. Instead they led to believe that they had never been aware of the fraudulent proceedings. They said they had trusted Tiggelbeck, their charismatic partner, who proposed and controlled the construction of the front banks.
These days the district judge is sticking to his published judgment that Rohner must have known about the fraud, at the latest, by the time he put on the staged appearance in New York. This all the more so because he had years of experience as a lawyer and financial expert in the banking area. The court convicted Rohner to two years nine months imprisonment unconditional. Pfister was sentence to six months imprisonment suspended.
Although Rohner had forwarded the customers' money to Tiggelbeck and had kept "only" about 600,000 franks commission for himself, he has to pay about 15 million franks compensation to the deceived customers per the court's judgment. His colleague, Pfister, is also obligated to pay back damages. The two are mutually liable. Their German partner never reappeared. Rohner wants to take the case to superior court, as confirmed by his attorney.
From Zurich district court
The alleged good faith of the con man
2 years and 9 months prison for a 15 million frank crime
February 3, 2000
Neue Zuercher Zeitung
Zurich district court has sentenced a 55-year-old businessman, who juggled business investments around on American banks which existed only on paper, to 2 years and 9 months imprisonment. The sum defrauded, according to the judgment, was 15 million franks. The district attorney had asked for 4 1/2 years in prison.
b1. In July of last year, before the 9th department of the Zurich district court, the trial of a 55-year-old attorney and bank officer from eastern Switzerland took place, who, from 1991 to 1994, in cooperation with a German finance manager, who has since disappeared; he handled alleged capital investments in American banks for private customers, without there ever having been an investment made (NZZ 8 July 99). The district attorney filed charges for commercial fraud and counterfeiting documents and asked for 4 1/2 years punishment; the accused put all the blame on the finance manager, whom he said he had trusted fully. The district court judgment, which was handed down December 23, 1999, has now been published in written form: the punishment was set at 2 years and 9 months prison for commercial fraud; charges of falsifying documents were dropped.
Manipulated investments in phantom banks
The accused offered private customers investments yielding dividends far above market from an organization incorporated in Zurich under the name "American Federal Banking Association" (AFBA). Most of the invested money was forwarded to the head of the firm, the German finance manager in Munich (some of which he personally delivered in cash); the other part of the financing was used to cover commissions in the Zurich office.
The AFBA and/or BAB [Swiss name], along with the American banks in which the money was to be invested, were constructions of the German business partner and, in essence, existed only on paper; the New York business address on Wall Street which the customers were given was only an "Office Service Center." It also set the stage for a drama which happens mostly in "sting" movies: for one customer who wanted to pay a personal visit to the bank in which he believed his money was invested, the Office Service Center, under the direction of the accused, was decorated with an ad hoc company plaque and staffed with personnel appropriate for an AFBA establishment.
From the time of that dramatization in November 1993 on, the accused himself could not have believed that he was representing a real financial institution. However he purported, in his court trial, to have complete trust in the charismatic persona of the German finance manager, and had no doubts about the existence of the banks for which he was acquiring customers.
Small share of amount defrauded
The court granted that in the beginning he had possibly not seen through his German business partner's house of lies; in view of the long list of inconsistencies and idiosyncracies in the nature of the business of the peculiar conglomerate of financial institutions and because of the accused's experience as a lawyer and a bank officer, it could not be granted that he acted in good faith up until the time the business dissolved in March 1994, when German victims got suspicious and the German finance manager disappeared. In any case, in its judgment the court took the view that the accused, for the length of 1 year and three months, had an indication of the purpose of the fraudulent dealings in which the amount in question he handled was figured at 15 million franks, of which he kept only 480,000 franks profit as "commission."
Connection to the Scientologists
The motive for the crime, according to the judgment, was the "extremely stressful situation" the accused was experiencing after he had a terrible business failure and himself was the victim of fraud; he had also expended much capital to gain the higher ranks of the Scientologists. In reducing the sentence asked, the court took into account that he had taken part in the external findings of fact in the investigation. The information technician who was also charged, who had gotten to know the accused as a Scientologist, could not convince the court, either, that, as the person responsible for the EDP system of BAB, he had not noticed he was processing manipulated investments; he received six months suspended conditionally for two years.
For more info on the man, Hans Kaspar Rhyner:
"Scientology is like Heroin"
July 8, 1999
Both of the men accused of having committed fraud in the amount of millions have since then left Scientology. As did the primary accused, the information technician accused of accessory also gave hundreds of thousands of franks to the sect for courses. "For me Scientology was like heroin. My angle of view was restricted more and more to the organization," he said before the court. In his departing [the sect] he had been declared to be a "Subversive Person" [sic]. The Scientologists also count the judges among these [SPs]. (pjm)
Account holders' pockets picked
A former Scientologist is alleged to have cheated German investors out of 22 million franks. Yesterday he had to appear before the district court.
by Peter Johannes Meier
His career with the Scientologists drove the 55 year old primary accused deeper and deeper into financial ruin. "I gave out about 450,000 franks for development courses to Scientology," explained the lawyer who recently left the sect, and who is also a former St. Gallen investigative magistrate. Speculations gone bad as an independent options dealer and the purchase of several hundred lithographs by Scientology founder Ron Hubbard were responsible, in part, for his mountain of debt going up to 3.5 million franks in the beginning of 1991.
It was in this situation that the accused sought out contact with a Munich financial advisor. The two of them are said to have defrauded [investors] of millions. In actuality they dealt with over 300 primarily German investors who were relieved of about 22 million franks between 1991 and 1994.
Appearance on Wall Street
The duo advertised for a "Federal Association of American Banks," which never even existed, in German newspaper inserts. They offered annual dividends of from 9-10 percent on investments secured with German marks. By use of the term "Federal Association" the false impression was given that reputable U.S. banks backed the institution. In deed and in truth the "Federal Association" was backed only by two so-called office service agencies which were operated by the accused himself under the misleading names of "Rothschild Bank" and "First American Insurance and Banking Corporation." A service office for "First American" was set up on Wall Street in New York which forwarded any inquiries back to Germany.
The Swiss primary accused's mission was the acquisition of customers and the gaining of their confidence. When one of the investors wanted to visit the "First American" in New York on his trip to America, things got ticklish for the two primary accused. They decided to stage a show on Wall Street. For this reason the Swiss man traveled to New York with a specially prepared company plaque and mounted it at 67 Wall Street. He even arranged to have receptionist there for the occasion. The visiting customer showed that he was impressed and fostered no further suspicion. On the contrary: until 1994 he introduced at least 20 other investors to the front company. With the assurance that their money was insured against loss by the American nation, the customers were led further down the false path. It was not until 1994 that an investor noticed that the cover company was not even a member of the federal deposit insurance corporation. The deal blew up. The German partner of the accused Swiss man disappeared with 13.7 million franks and has not been seen since then.
The Swiss man allegedly transferred most of the customers' money to his German business partner. The money was not invested. For the contracts he closed he took in about 600,000 franks commission.
Accessory to Fraud
A 39 year old colleague of the Swiss primary accused also stood before the court yesterday; he is also a former Scientologist. He had been accused of setting up an EDP [electronic data processing] system in the office of the accused in order to make his acquisition work easier. The accused admitted that he had had suspicions during his employment that possibly everything was not OK with the business. The district attorney accused him of accessory in commercial fraud and multiple falsification of documents. Ten months imprisonment suspended was asked for him.
For the primary accused the district attorney asked 4.5 years imprisonment and the return of illegally acquired finances in the amount of 600,000 franks. He is said to have incriminated himself for commercial fraud and multiple falsification of documents. In contrast, he sees himself as a victim of his gullibility in regards to his business partner. After the customers signed their contract he says he had nothing else to do with it. His defense counsel requested he be released from custody or get a thorough psychiatric exam. Sentence is still outstanding.
Investment deal with phantom bankers
July 8, 1999
Neue Zuercher Zeitung
From the Zurich District Court
Fraud in the amount of 21 million franks
bl. Phantom conspirators were charged before the 9th Department of the Zurich District Court on Wednesday: there was on one side the phantom of an American bank system which had directly, or through agents, acquired money from 1991 to 1994 in the amount of about 21 million Swiss franks as investments, which was never really made profitable, and on the other side the phantom picture of the big missing person was presented, a real-life, existing German financier who disappeared, who set up the whole con game, deceiving not only the investor, but also, allegedly, his "outside service workers" in Zurich who still have to answer before the court.
The one charged is a lawyer, who today is 55 years old, and who after he passed his bar exam received a commission with the federal attorney's office, then worked for a short time as a special investigator before he transferred into the bank business, where he accumulated eleven years experience at two major banks, which included investment business. It was by no means an unhappy career, however he was let go without notice from one bank for improper depot manipulation, but he soon found another bank position which he again soon left in order to work independently. He tried his hand at options and got involved with U.S. real estate, but was not able to cash in. He lost money, his shattered marriage which had produced two children also weighed him down financially, as did the expenses for his membership in Scientology.
Things at first went well for him in business, after he got the afore-mentioned financier, Ulrich Tiggelbeck in Munich, to join him in an investment project called the "First American Insurance and Banking Corporation" (FAIBC), as European director. It was a bank which existed only on paper, and its alleged headquarters in New York was nothing more than an "Office Service Center" on Wall Street which answered the telephone and forwarded the mail. For the purpose of doing business with the FAIBC, the lawyer established the so-called "Bundesverbandes amerikanisher Banken" (BAB, AFBA in English, or American Federal Banking Association) which Tiggelbeck represented, and under whose auspices he did business with the Office Service Center on Wall Street.
From Fall 1991, the BAB advertised in German newspapers for people who were interested in investing in alleged member banks, of which the FAIBC was given as the main one. The accused would appear as the attorney and saw to the customers who answered the newspaper advertisements and who had been lured by dividends higher than market. The investors would be convinced by evidence of alleged security: the banks associated with the BAB were said to be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC), and they were said to be under the control of the Security Exchange Commission (SEC). Falsified FDIC documents of the member banks were included in the presentation.
At first the accused conducted business from out of his house; as the number of customers increased, he established an office with a secretary who saw to it that the customers, after having invested their money, would receive monthly statements with dividend statements. According to the letter of indictment over 14 million Swiss franks were deposited in the Zurich BAB establishment (the customers from Germany paid in Deutsch Marks), of that approximately 6.7 million Swiss franks was forwarded to Tiggelbeck in Munich and a portion which has not been exactly determined (between 1 and 2.9 million Swiss franks) were used to pay people who withdrew their investments and to pay dividends. Altogether Tiggelbeck and his Zurich man took in about 21.9 million Swiss franks with the BAB business; 5.9 million went back to the investors; at last, after the deal came to light in March 1994 and Tiggelbeck disappeared (he is still missing), 2.7 million was left in the bank account with which to pay back losses.
Before the court the accused stated in the extraordinarily intensive, personal investigation by the chief justice that he had known nothing at all about the background of the FAIBC and BAB; he said Tiggelbeck had run everything and he had had complete trust in him. It had never shaken his confidence to have never had contact with another member of these institutions, he said, nor to have known nothing about them, nor that he never saw a business report from the FAIBC. He said his assignment was only to see to the customers. Apparently he had no doubt as to the existence of a bank by the name of FAIBC when he, allegedly on assignment from Tiggelbeck, traveled to New York in order to set a little stage there for a customer by decorating the Office Service Center on Wall Street, with the help of the personnel who were there, as an AFBA establishment. The customer could (allegedly) unfortunately not visit the FAIBC in the Empire State Building because it was not open on the Friday after Thanksgiving; but the company sign was hung up outside - the accused had seen to that.
4 1/2 years imprisonment demanded
The district attorney applied for punishment of 4 1/2 years imprisonment for advertising fraud and falsification of documents; the defense asked for release - his client had been gullible, he said, and had never intended to deceive or harm the customers, and he had never gained any financial advantage from this since he allegedly had only drawn commission as an agent.
Also accused as accessory was an information specialist, a former friend of the chief accused which had let the accused stay in his home and had financially supported him for a while after they had gotten to know each other in Scientology. The information specialist had set up an EDP (electronic data processing) system for the customer accounts at the BAB; there was no doubt about the kind of business Tiggelbeck was in there, but he said that it had never occurred to him that his friend could have been involved with fraudulent machinations - he respected him as a lawyer who stood higher than him on the Scientology chart. His defense is that he had never had anything to do with the customers, had little insight into the business of his friend and had never been ready to enter the business; release was also asked for him as opposed to the 10 month imprisonment suspended asked by the prosecutor. The sentence will be announced later in writing.
in the "Big Apple"
July 8, 1999
Der Landbote online
Lawyer to spend four and a half years in prison
Using a fake receptionist and many dirty tricks, a lawyer managed to take numerous investors for about 22 million franks. A case for the Zurich District Court.
The trick of the former examining magistrate was simple. The former Zurich member of the Scientology Church promised customers investments to make a profit with a dividend of ten percent. The dream of quick profit was supposed to have come true without risk in New York with the help of allegedly professional American banks. The professional appearance of the lawyer and Swiss army officer had an effect. Between 1991 and 1994, about 150 investors entrusted him with double-digit millions of investments. There was only one little thing: the U.S. banks which allegedly were in the Empire State Building and on Wall Street existed - apart from a fax connection - only on paper.
One autumn day the accused broke out in a nervous sweat. A customer, a surgeon by profession, had told him that he wanted to visit the bank in New York in a few days. The lawyer reacted immediately. He packed up several extra pre-made company signs and flew over the big pond. He arrived one day before the surgeon and looked for a showcase in which he could quickly enclose his lettered inscriptions at the appropriate address. The accused even managed to round up a receptionist as had been described in the statement. The con game succeeded. "The doctor had no doubt that he had actually seen the New York office of the bank," stated the indictment.
Things blew up in May 1995. The lawyer, born in 1944, and a Scientologist employee in the EDP area [electronic data processing] were jailed for a short time in detention. Yesterday the case came before the Zurich District Court. The charges mentioned professional fraud and multiple falsification of documents. The primary accused is said to have taken in about 150 investors for up to 22 million franks. In the judicial investigation into the matter he contradicted himself many times and let on that he had given the matter no thought at the time it was happening. He laid the blame on an allegedly missing German millionaire. At times the lawyer gave the impression of an oppressed grade schooler who forgot to do his homework. He described his show in America as a big mistake.
Sentence to follow
The District Attorney demanded four and a half years imprisonment for the main accused, ten months prison suspended for the co-accused. Both men stated that they had left the Scientology Church. They said they had given several hundred thousand franks to the organization. Because of the many victims and the extensive proceedings the court has not yet pronounced sentence.
May 28, 1998
Business goal: rip-off
This article points out that there are offshore businesses, such as "Jackson Services or Lincoln Limited", whose headquarters are in the Bahamas or the British Virgin Islands. which have only one purpose: to rip people off with promises of fantastic dividends.
The article pointed out the following:
Among the accused is Erwin Dossenback. For years, the Scientologist was a staff member who worked closely with Jurg Stettler, the speaker of Scientology Switzerland. According to the District Attorney's Office, Dossenback functioned as mediator for the dubious investment organization. This second job cost him his job with Scientology. "When we learned of his business activities," said Stettler, "we disconnected ourselves from Mr. Dossenback."
Peter Glur was also fascinated by speculative investment business. The high-ranking Scientologist from Nidau be Biel advertises for his Fitrag trust company a "form of investment which has never been advertized before." The business is involved in the Bahamas International Development, a classic offshore business. Glur promises investors "annual net dividends of 30 percent", and "first-class security." Not one word is mentioned about the type of investment or about the security. When the business goes down the tubes, Fitrag had to declare bankruptcy.
According to the article, Glur was recommended as a dependable consultant by another Scientologist, Reto Buchel. Buchel also supposedly establishes companies in Switzerland and in Jersey for foreign interests, so that they do not have to pay taxes in their own country. The FOCUS article reported that:
"My tax advisor has established this model for an internationally active Scientology company," he exults in writing, "and for over a year, this has resulted in relatively incontestable tax-exemption."
May 28, 1998
The former Sankt-Galen judge, Hans Kaspar Rhyner, took well-meaning investors for a ride so that he could give money to Scientology.
by Michael Solmicky
The company name sounded impressive: American Federal Banking Association, or, in German, "Bundesverband Amerikanischer Banken (BAB)." It operated out of 48 Stampfenbach street in Zurich. Attorney Hans Kaspar Rhyner, former judge of the Sargan District (Bezierksamt Sargans SG), lent the institution an atmosphere of trustworthiness as the "Executive Director Switzerland."
Today, the bank proves to have been a facade for a million dollar fiasco. With alluring promises of ten percent dividends, Rhyner and his German partner took a whole series of well-intentioned investors for their money. Instead of investing the money, it was was simply deposited in the accounts of those supposedly responsible for the bank. As the swindle came to a head, it was too late.
In his written complaint of December 19, 1997, the Zurich district attorney counted 350 charges of fraud for a total of 22 million franks ($16 million). The artful deception of the fictitious bank consortium shows how the Scientology organization relieves its members of their money and makes them susceptible to illegal business practices. For the first time, sect experts, in connection with Scientology, are warning of a phenomenon which, until now, was limited [in Switzerland] to drug addicts: "commercial crime." "The member's necessity for money is so great," says Odette Jaccard, speaker for the Swiss Information Group on Scientology and Dianetics, "that it can hardly be accumulated fast enough by legal means."
The expensive Scientology membership had finally brought Hans Kaspar Rhyner upon hard times. He needed money, is how Rhyner explained his part in the million dollar debacle to the investigative authorities. The 54 year old attorney put everything he had into Scientology owned and foreign capital.
The higher Rhyner got in the Scientology hierarchy, the worse his economic situation became. "Especially in 1988 and 1989", ascertained the Zurich district attorney's office is his written complaint, "the private and commercial mountain of debt took on dangerous proportions." During this time, Rhyner's career in Scientology took a sharp turn upward. In 1987 he entered the controversial organization; by 1989, he had already reached the state of "clear". That is a level in which the person is supposed to have been relieved of his spiritual ballast. In the next two years, he worked his way up to Operating Thetan 5, called OT5, one of the highest steps in the Scientology hierarchy.
His ascension alone cost Rhyner about a half million franks ($350,000). On top of that came payments for further membership courses and for the International Association of Scientology (IAS), which brought him the title of "Patron Meritorious," a privileged position inside of the organization. Cost: another half a million.
Rhyner's balance fell into the red, which is the same fate as many other high-ranking Scientologists. Confidential documents from former Scientology members prove that in the past few years, three dozen Thetans have had to declare bankruptcy in Switzerland. "A good Scientologist," affirms Scientology opponent Odette Jaccard, distinguishes himself by having been involved with a yard-long list of businesses."
Scientology speaker Jurg Stettler disputes the susceptibility of Scientology members to bankruptcy. "That has nothing to do with a membership in a religion," says Stettler, "Catholics also go broke." The church tax [imposed upon Catholics] would have cost much less than Scientology. That did not keep the already heavily indebted lawyer from financing his Scientology career with foreign capital. In 1989, he received a $345,000 loan from Albert Jacquier, a high-ranking Scientologists from Geneva. Jacquier did not see his money before he died on December 11, 1994. It was not possible for him to initiate a legal process against Rhyner. Scientology forbids its members of have legally opposing relationships with each other.
Instead of this, Scientology entered into business with Rhyner. This happened with Author Services Incorporated (ASI), the administrative executor of the writings of the Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. In order to preserve the works of the sect guru "for all eternity" with expensive preservation methods, ASI sells Scientologists paintings which follow a motif from Hubbard's science fiction novels, presumably for under market value. A re-sale is supposed to reap a fat profit.
In the early 90's, Rhyner took over as representative for a portion of Europe, and invested luxuriously in the high-stepping project of the Scientology enterprise. He appeared on the ASI honor roll with a patron's contribution of $500,000. Since then he has played a leading role in commercial areas, according to sect experts. "Rhyner serves as a relay station for financial business," says the German author and Scientology specialist, Peter Reichelt. The business with the pictures turned into a catastrophe. The paintings , for the most part, turned out to be worthless on the art market. Rhyner was left with a bill of goods. In 1991 his debts climbed another 1.5 million franks for a total of 3.5 million franks. This was exactly as much as he had invested in Scientology up to that time.
Even Scientology speaker Jurg Stettler has to admit today that Rhyner lost out in the picture business. "This project", interjects Stettler, "went down the tubes."
"The greater the financial pressure," said Fridolin Triet, the Zurich attorney entrusted with Rhyner's case, "the greater the danger of engaging in business of a dubious nature." This is what has played a role in Rhyner's case, said Triet. Renate Hartwig, the German Scientology sect expert, took it one step further. "The organization empties its members' pockets of their money, thereby making them susceptible to criminal behavior." The OT steps should not be called Operating Thetan, continued Hartwig, but "Operating Perpetrator" ("Operierender Taeter").
The millions he had in debt drove the former judge Rhyner into the illegal investment business. Between 1991 and 1994, he and his German partner, Ullrich Tiggelbeck, under the name of "Bundesverband Amerikanischer Banken BAB", promised "yearly dividends of up to 10 percent in D-Mark (German mark) investments." Today, the Zurich district attorney's office for commercial crime came to the conclusion that neither a bank consortium nor a serious investment opportunity was ever in the making. The offices on Stampfenbach street in Zurich were a facade. The BAB address in the United States is not that of a bank, but of Business Service Center, which contracts for mail and secretarial work. The stocks were just as counterfeit as the entry of BAB in the US American bank register. The bank consortium exists only on paper.
However, both of the self-named directors, Rhyner and Tiggelbeck, did a thriving business. In only three years their paper bank was bursting with 350 investors and 22 million franks. The money had not been accounted for in regular books. The substantial contributions were channeled to an account in Germany. When the fraud was exposed, Tiggelbeck absconded with 13.7 million franks ($9.5 million) and disappeared.
Rhyner was not available for comment. Despite calls for his resignation as an attorney, he has not let himself be shaken. He told the investigation authorities that he had always believed he was conducting a serious bank business, and that he knew nothing of fraud.
Even though he claims to have known nothing, on November 24, 1993, he traveled to New York in order to answer the questions of a large investor about the existence of BAB. For this reason he brought ready-made company signs with him and mounted them on 67 Wall Street and in the Empire State Building, so that the postal address of the BAB would appear as if it were the main office. The trick worked. The customer never suspected a thing, and invested his money. This has convinced the Zurich district attorney that Rhyner was guilty of malevolent deception and therefore of commercial fraud. The punishment will be four and a half years in prison. Scientology has not been charged with anything, which is a sin of omission, according to Scientology sect expert, Renate Hartwig. "The organization has driven Rhyner to investment fraud," criticized Hartwig, "yet it does not have to answer up for its actions."