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White Helmets co-founder stole support cash destined for Syria – report

White Helmets co-founder stole aid money destined for Syria – report

As Western governments opened their checkbooks for the White Helmets – a controversial ‘rescue group’ in Syria – their co-founder used the money to high up his wage and even finance his marriage ceremony, in response to a Dutch report.

Days earlier than he plunged from a window in Istanbul to his dying final yr, White Helmets co-founder and British mercenary James Le Mesurier admitted to defrauding Mayday Rescue, a company that fundraised for the anti-government rescue group in Syria.

Based on paperwork seen by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, Le Mesurier instructed an accountant despatched to audit the charity’s books that he solid receipts for $50,000, pretending that it was despatched to finance an evacuation operation in Syria. As an alternative, the cash was paid to Le Mesurier himself. Along with paying himself a wage of €24,000 ($27,414) per thirty days, Le Mesurier dipped into firm money to finance a lavish marriage ceremony in Istanbul in 2018, and to subject loans to his new spouse, former diplomat Emma Winberg, the report claims.

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The accountant despatched to research Mayday discovered that “tens of hundreds of {dollars} in money” had been withdrawn to pay for the “fairytale marriage ceremony.”

In the meantime, governments throughout the Western world had been lining as much as assist Mayday, and channel cash to the White Helmets. Based on a 2018 report by the Dutch Ministry of International Affairs, the group took in $127 million between 2014 and 2018, with solely $19 million of this haul coming from non-state donors. The federal government of the Netherlands paid out nearly $11.5 million on this interval, whereas comparable donations flowed in from Germany, Nice Britain, Canada, Qatar, and others.

Regardless of being hailed as fearless rescue staff, the White Helmets have been accused of partnering with Al-Qaeda. Working solely in rebel-held territory, the group’s members have been photographed posing with jihadists and have been accused of staging chemical weapons assaults to attract in Western forces in opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Le Mesurier’s dying was deemed a suicide by Turkish authorities. Shortly afterwards, various international locations that had donated to Mayday demanded an accountant have one other look over the group’s books. Based on De Volkskrant, this probe discovered that almost all of Mayday’s monetary data are “lacking.” Donations weren’t simply handed to the group in Amsterdam and forwarded to Syria, however distributed by means of a community of business organizations in Turkey and Dubai. 

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In a letter to donors, Le Mesurier admitted to swindling them out of their money, however maintained the fraud wasn’t dedicated on goal. After these donors found their money had disappeared, they saved the inquiry into Mayday secret, De Volkskrant reported.

The Dutch authorities pulled its funding from Mayday Rescue nearly a yr earlier than Le Mesurier admitted the fraud and killed himself. The federal government in The Hague is not going to switch a ultimate subsidy of greater than €57,000 ($65,200) to the group, whereas Germany is trying to assert practically €50,000 ($57,200) again. Cor Vrieswijk, Mayday’s new administrator, instructed De Volkskrant that the charity will likely be dissolved within the coming months.

President Assad claimed final November that Le Mesurier’s dying was no accident, stating in an interview that the previous soldier and mercenary might have been killed as a result of he “knew main secrets and techniques.” What Le Mesurier might or might not have recognized is anybody’s guess, however his dying and the next investigation into Mayday has not dried up the White Helmets’ funding.

The group is reportedly receiving subsidies from Western governments by means of different organizations. At current its members are occupied with combating the coronavirus outbreak in Syria. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped its management from lobbying the US authorities in opposition to Assad and urgent for the upkeep of sanctions, even amid the pandemic.

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