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German Authorities: No Grounds to Reconsider Designation of WikiLeaks Financier as “Charitable” Entity

1:43 PM, Dec 13, 2010 • By JOHN ROSENTHAL
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Germany’s Wau Holland Foundation is the principal fundraiser for WikiLeaks and indeed, on its own account, WikiLeaks’s de facto financial manager. In “Tax Deductible WikiLeaks,” I noted that donations to WikiLeaks via the foundation are even tax deductible for German contributors. This is because the Wau Holland Foundation is designated as a “gemeinnützige” (“charitable”) organization. The word gemeinnützig literally means “for the common good.”

German Authorities: No Grounds to Reconsider Designation of WikiLeaks Financier as “Charitable” Entity

Although it lists a postal address in Berlin, the Wau Holland Foundation is registered in Kassel, where its bank account at a local branch of Germany’s Commerzbank is also located. In my previous report, I cited a December 2 article in the German daily Die Welt. According to the article in Die Welt, local authorities in Kassel were examining whether the foundation’s fundraising on behalf of WikiLeaks is compatible with its designation as a “charitable” entity. Similarly, a December 7 report by the business daily Handelsblatt claims that local authorities want to examine “whether the foundation is still acting in accordance with its mission in light of the interconnections between the Wau Holland Foundation and Wikileaks.”

In a statement issued on the same day, however, the Kassel regional administration has denied that it is examining the matter of the foundation’s connections to WikiLeaks. According to the statement, the Wau Holland Foundation has received a warning from the authorities only because of its failure to submit a yearly financial report by the legally stipulated deadline. The statement describes the procedure as common and notes that the foundation has altogether another ten weeks to submit the report before any practical measures are taken. The statement continues:

All claims that go beyond these affirmations have nothing to do with the work of the foundation oversight authority of the regional administration of Kassel. This also holds for the claim that the regional administration of Kassel is examining “whether the foundation is still acting in accordance with its mission in light of the interconnections between the Wau Holland Foundation and Wikileaks.” The foundation oversight authority sees no grounds for undertaking such an examination.

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