Minnesota Teen Challenge filed a motion to dismiss the $5,790,606.51 Palm Beach Finance clawback May 10th using the recently passed statute limiting clawbacks of fraudulent transfers to 2 years instead of 6 years. The retroactive part of the bill is intended by its sponsors to rescue non-profits from having to cough up the stolen money they received specifically from the Petters Ponzi scheme - Listen:
House_Audio_1384 by spongiforce
Defenders of HF 1384 claim the non-profits rescued by this new statute are unwitting victims of Tom Petters. The analogy they use is Petters, with no criminal record (it was expunged) is like a bank robber dropping his loot into a church's poor box - how were they to know?
When it comes to Minnesota Teen Challenge and other non-profits who received fraudulent transfers of money from Frank Vennes, there's three big problems with that analogy;
1) Frank Vennes was not an anonymous donor to MNTC.
2) He was a board member.
3) It cannot be said that MNTC was unaware that Frank Vennes was a fraudster - he was a convicted money launderer. It is highly unlikely that the MNTC board did not know that Frank Vennes had served time for that crime since he gave one or more lectures (audio here) about it, including one at something called the "God and Money Dinner" with Darrel Amiot who also served on the MNTC board.
This is what Minnesota Teen Challenge Director Rich Scherber said about accepting Vennes funds (2011?) - Note that it only mentions Petters, not Vennes (download PDF here):
Dear Friends of Teen Challenge,
If you have been following the news lately, you may have heard that Petters Companies is under investigation. Those who have walked with Teen Challenge over the years have seen the generosity Tom Petters has shown towards our ministry. Needless to say, we are stunned and saddened by the news we have recently heard. We have been contacted by many of you who are concerned for us and are praying; we are so thankful for your prayers and support.
In an affidavit, Teen Challenge is mentioned as being one of many victims. Our board felt it important to share with you the ministry’s involvement with Petters Companies, and how this situation has affected us.
About seven years ago, one of our major donors recommended that we consider building a strong reserve fund for Teen Challenge – a nest egg –for use in case of emergency or for program expansion. The donor suggested that we work with the Harvest Fund, and later the Fidelis Foundation, organizations that work with many other Christian ministries, and consider investing some of his large charitable gifts in the Petters Companies, a once strong, respected corporate entity in Minnesota.
From the very beginning of our investments, our board of directors adamantly insisted that no other general donor funds ever be transferred into those notes. For seven years this investment bore a healthy return and helped us expand our programming and outreach. In the past year, we have been using the interest on these funds to help underwrite the costs of our statewide programs.
Strong Christian stewardship is one of our embraced values. It is important for you to know that our board is very prudent and careful with all contributions that come into the ministry. We recognize that many of your contributions come at great sacrifice. This situation has caught hundreds of other investors and ministries by surprise and we are in the process of assessing its impact on the ministry.
As always, your prayers and support of our Christian mission are much appreciated.
I contacted MN Teen Challenge. The spokesperson had no comment on the motion to dismiss.
Below is the MNTC letter (click on the letter to make it larger: