Book ID 29
Bonner, Raymond At the Hand of Man - Peril and Hope for Africa's Wildlife, 1993
Page Number: 66-71
To attract donors, large and small, as well as media attention, Nicholson, Scott and the founding fathers of WWF wanted the royal family to lend their name. They approached Prince Philip to be president. Philip was an avid outdoorsman and hunter - in January 1961 he had bagged a Bengal tiger in India - and he and Queen Elizabeth had been to Kenya, on a safari best remembered because King George VI died while they were watching wild animals and Princess Elizabeth had become Queen. Scott sent Philip a draft of the proposed charter. Philip read it carefully, replying that one provision was 'unctuous,' and another 'to wordy.' This careful reading was not what Scott hold expected. It is 'a great bore that he suggests so much alteration,' Scott wrote Nicholson. The founding fathers had wanted the Prince only as a figurehead. Philip agreed to head up the British chapter of WWF, but he turned down the presidency of the International and suggested his friend Prince Bernhard for the post. The men were alike in many ways. Both had been born into European royal families, but not very distinguished ones, and had acquired their status and string of titles when they married - Bernhard to the future Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. The two men were handsome, dashing, and staunchly conservative politically.
Scott, who liked consorting with royalty, made the pitch. 'Prince Philip (who was sailing with me at Cowes in the 12 metre 'sceptre' on Saturday) . . . told me that he was very keen that you should 'head-up' the international Trustees,' Scott wrote to Bernhard. 'Please may I ask Your Royal Highness to say that you will be President of the Trustees of The World Wildlife Fund.'' Prince Bernhard he eventually said yes, and he served as president until 1976, when he was forced to resign after it became public that he had solicited more than a million dollars in 'commissions' from Lockheed in exchange for Lockheed's receiving contracts to build warplanes for the Netherlands. (At one point after the scandal broke, Bernhard said that he had intended to give the money from Lockheed to WWF; a member of the board at the time insists this is not true.
Bernhard remained active behind the scenes in WWF, but a couple of years after he resigned, Philip became president of the International, and though it was thought he would serve for only a few years, he is still in power. The Prince is a committed conservationist and he undoubtedly has given prestige and visibility to WWF around the world. At the same time, however, many in the Third World have questioned whether he is the right person to head an organisation that does most of its work in developing countries. At a meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of state, most of them from the Third World and black, Philip said to an aide, 'You wouldn't think the peace of the world rested on this lot, would you'?' on another occasion, he referred to the Chinese as 'slitty-eyed.'
WWF WAS SET UP to raise money, but in spite of the initial successes, it did not prove very effective. Nicholson had said that $1.5 million each year would be needed for conservation, which Scott thought he could easily raise; indeed, he anticipated coaxing $25 million from the rich. Scott discovered that socializing with the elite was one thing, getting them to part with their money quite another, and it was several years before the total of WWF's revenues reached $1 million.
WWF's financial fortunes began to change dramatically after a hard-driving South African businessman, Anton Rupert, joined the board. An Afrikaaner from the Cape, Rupert had already made millions as the owner of Rothmans International tobacco company, the foundation of the Rembrandt Group, his wholly owned business empire. When Rupert expanded beyond South Africa, he bought Dunhill and Cartier, and eventually he became one of the richest men in South Africa, rivalled only by Harry Oppenheimer, the gold and diamond industrialist. Rupert had long been interested in conservation, including the restoration of historic buildings, and in 1968 he joined the WWF board of trustees; he stayed on the board for twenty-two years, ill spite of a provision in the organisation's original incorporation documents that limited members to two three-year terms, a provision that was routinely ignored for the benefit of several other influential members of the board as well. Rupert brought a considerable amount of his own money to WWF, but, more important, he conceived a plan that would raise millions
Rupert's idea was the '1001 Club' The 'one' was Prince Bernhard The other one thousand were wealthy individuals who could be persuaded to part with $10,000. The one-time donation brings lifetime membership, and the names of the generous patrons are kept secret by the organisation. According to these secret lists, American givers have included August A Busch, Jr, of the beer company; Henry Ford II; Peter Grace; Nelson Bunker Hunt, the silver trader; Mrs Geoffrey Kent, of Abercrombie & Kent; Robert S. McNamara; Cyril Magnin; Lew Wasserman, of MCA; Thomas Watson, of IBM. Many of the donors understandably wish to remain anonymous (in part to avoid being badgered by other charities), but it is also understandable why WWF does not want the list made public. It has included many less savoury individuals - Zaire's President Mobutu, Sese Seko, one of the most corrupt leaders in Africa; Daniel K Ludwig, the reclusive American billionaire, whose companies destroyed thousands of miles of the Amazon rain forest; Agha Hasan Abedi, the founder of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCC1); Robert Vesco, the financier who fled the United States in the 1970s to escape trial on charges of fraud, embezzlement and obstruction of justice; Tibor Rosenbaum, founder of a Swiss bank that laundered billions of dollars of organised crime money and who was accused of embezzling Israeli deposits in the bank; Thomas Jones, who was forced out as chief executive of Northrop after it was revealed that the company paid $30 million in bribes to government officials and agents around the world in exchange for contracts; Lord Kagan, a British businessman convicted of theft and conspiracy to defraud the British tax service; a Norwegian shipowner convicted of taking a £1 million bribe; an individual who was the conduit for the money from Lockheed to Prince Bernhard.
There has been another remarkable feature about the 1001 Club - the number of South Africans. On the 1989 list, at least sixty individuals were from South Africa, including seven of Rupert's relatives. Many were also members of the Broederbond, the secret, conservative Afrikaaner society that has traditionally wielded immense political power in South Africa. Only five countries had more donors, and as a percentage of their population, South African whites had three hundred times as many members as the United States. It is easy to understand why so many South Africans have been willing to part with $10,000 to Join the 1001 and not all of it has to do with conservation. Not many international clubs welcomed white South Africans, and membership in the 1001 provided them an opportunity to mingle and do business with tycoons, as well as with Prince Philip and Prince Bernhard. What else they may have gained from the membership is unknown, in part because so much of what WWF-lnternational does is kept from the public and even from the organisation's own trustees. Because of the secrecy and closed nature of the WWF club, it is also difficult to know the extent of the influence that so much South African money has had on the organisation's conservation work. There can be little doubt, however, that WWF-International's initial opposition to the ivory ban reflected South African power on the board - South Africa was adamantly opposed to the ban, because its elephants were not being poached and it made money from selling ivory.
One place where South Africa's clout has been felt is in the office of the director-general, the man who runs WWF. Since 1977 that man has been Charles de Haes. Much of de Haes's past is vague, which seems to be by design: he has chosen to reveal very little about his background and some of what the organisation does say publicly about him is at odds with the facts. On WWF's public list of officers and trustees, de Haes is identified as being from Belgium, and he was born there, in 1938. But as a young boy, he moved with his family to South Africa. After graduating from Cape Town University with a law degree, he got a job with Rothmans International, Rupert's tobacco company. De Haes's Official resume - that is, the one WWF distributes - makes a point of noting that he went to work for the tobacco company 'although himself a nonsmoker.' It then says de Haes 'helped establish companies' in Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. What it does not say is that these were companies that sold cigarettes. Maybe de Haes didn't smoke, but he made money by encouraging others to do so.
De Haes was brought to WWF through the back door by Anton Rupert in 1971. He was first assigned to be personal assistant to Prince Bernhard. One of his tasks was to implement the 1001 Club project. He was tremendously successful. Ten thousand dollars was worth even more back then, yet it took de Haes only three years to find one thousand donors. Prince Bernhard provided the letters of introduction, but de Haes was the salesman who clinched the deals. Even de Haes's fiercest critics - and they are many - use the word 'brilliant' when describing his fund-raising skills.
In 1975, with the backing of Rupert and Prince Philip de Haes was named joint director-general of WWF, and two years later he had the top position to himself. De Haes had no education or experience in conservation, other than his few years at WWF, yet he was now in charge of the most prestigious and influential conservation organisation in the world. It was a position that would have appealed to the most qualified and eminent individuals in the field, yet no effort was made to recruit any of them.
WWF may have taken on someone without conservation experience, but then, it cost the organisation nothing: Rupert agreed to pay de Haes's salary - which, according to a British trustee, goes far in explaining why de Haes got the Job. WWF never said at the time that Rupert was paying de Haes, and it still tries to conceal this fact. The organisation's chief spokesman, Robert SanGeorge, stated emphatically during an interview in 1991 that de Haes had not been seconded from Rothmans to Prince Bernhard and WWF during the early years. But an internal WWF memorandum signed by the organisation's executive vice-president in 1975 talks specifically about 'Mr. de Haes's period of secondment to WWF.' What this means, of course, is that de Haes was still employed by a South African corporation while working for WWF. 'I thought it was a scandal,' says a former board member from North America, Who added that it was only by accident that he learned that Rupert was paying de Haes. This board member did not like the arrangement. 'Who does the director general serve'? Is the interest of a South African tobacco company synonymous with the world conservation movement? Even more troubling to this director was the fact that it was kept a secret. 'lf it was such a good thing, why weren't they willing to say so in the annual report?'
In a similar vein, the organisation treats as a state secret the question of who paid de Haes after he became director-general. It was 'an anonymous donor' SanGeorge says. Even board members have been in the dark. When on occasion one asked, he was told that the donor wished to remain anonymous.
It is unlikely that any other charitable organisation that depends on public support operates with such little accountability and in such secrecy as WWF has under de Haes. It is easier to penetrate the CIA. And when WWF has been caught in embarrassing conducts it has engaged in damage control and cover-ups of the kind that might be expected from a company whose products have caused injury to consumers and the environment. Under rules de Haes promulgated, WWF employees are prohibited from talking to anyone outside the organization about anything except what the organisation has already made public; the obligation to secrecy binds the employee even after he or she has left WWF. Few are willing to break this code of silence - given their fear of de Haes and, in the case of current employees, the generous salaries and pleasant living conditions in Switzerland.
It may well be, as one senior WWF officer put it somewhat defensively, that a dollar given to WWF is still a dollar well spent for conservation. But, as this person added, 'imagine what the organisation could be with better leadership.'
Over the years there has been increasing dissatisfaction with de Haes's leadership. One of the most serious challenges to his rule came in the early 1980s, when the heads of the WWF organisations in Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland began to discuss among themselves changes they thought were necessary in the organisation. These organisations should be able to effect change because they provide most of the funds for the International - WWF-UK alone contributes nearly one-third of the International's budget, and Switzerland and the Netherlands rank second and third. The way WWF was set up, two-thirds of the money raised by the national organisations goes to the International, while one third remains with the national organisation. The 'dissident' leaders of the three national organisations objected to this because there was no accountability over how the International spent the money. They also did not like the fact that the WWF-International board of trustees doesn't represent the national organisations. The board is a self-selected body - that is, those on the board decide whom to place on it - and the national organisations, even though they give the money, have no right of representation. In short, the heads of the British, Dutch and Swiss organisations felt that too much power was concentrated in Gland - the Swiss town where WWF-lnternational's headquarters is located - and that the local organisations should have more autonomy.
Sir Arthur Norman, the head of WWF-UK at the time, was particularly disturbed by the manner in which WWF-International set up chapters in other countries. He thought they should 'be triggered off by local people, local enthusiasm, and not by someone in Bland saying 'it's time'.
extract from a web site
Bilderberg Conferences (http://www.bilderberg.org/bernhard.htm)
Prince Bernhard - personal background and his part in starting the Bilderberg Conferences
This site campaigns for general press access to Bilderberg venues - and a declaration from the organisers that the discussions are public, not private
The Prince and the Nazis - Extract from 'H. R. H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands; an authorized biography' Harrap, 1962. by Alden Hatch
U.S./Nazi connections - Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler - Bernhard's employer, I.G.Farben, is discussed
1975 - The Lockheed Scandal - The Grease Machine Exposed - extract from David Boulton's book: 'The Lockheed Papers'
At The Hand Of Man - The White Man's Game - Extract from Raymond Bonner's book on Bernhard's World Wildlife Fund
Project CA-35 - Recent research into Nazi-Bilderberg connections in Boston, Mass.