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Former Beluga manager accused of stealing orphan school donations

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Former Beluga manager accused of stealing orphan school donations
Photo: DPA
17:01 CEST+02:00
Former owner of the bankrupt Beluga shipping firm Niels Stolberg has been accused of funnelling money donated to rebuild a school in Thailand after the 2004 tsunami in Asia into his company's coffers as he battled to keep it afloat.

The Financial Times Deutschland reported on Wednesday that the Bremen public prosecutor had launched an investigation against Stolberg for suspected fraud regarding the €500,000 school donation.

The paper said Beluga ran into massive money problems last year and went bust in the summer. Stolberg is already being investigated for suspected falsification of the company's accounts to the tune of more than €100 million.

It is thought he simply invented massive chunks of turnover, while also putting part of his personal fortune into the company in an attempt to make its books seem halfway healthy, the paper said.

He persuaded the American investor Oaktree Capital Management to invest in the company in 2010, but within a few months the Americans confronted him about irregularities and forced him out of the company.

Oaktree is now suing Stolberg for €120 million in damages, while the latest allegations will only further damage his ruined reputation according to the FTD.

He founded the school in Thailand following the tsunami, supposedly in order to help orphaned children there. The television programme NDR1 reported recently that money collected for it during the fundraising effort was moved the next day into the company's accounts.

The Local/hc

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