Head of Ben & Jerry’s board accused of alleged self-dealing

0
39
Head of Ben & Jerry's board accused of alleged self-dealing

The head of the board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s is accused of alleged self-dealing, doling out tens of thousands in cash from the controversial ice cream company’s foundation to fund her own pro-Palestinian non-profit, according to a watchdog complaint to the IRS.

Anuradha Mittal, the chair of the ice cream maker’s board since 2008, organized the company’s recent, controversial boycott, refusing to sell ice cream to Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories.

She is also a vice president of the company’s non-profit foundation. Between 2017 and 2018, the foundation doled out more than $100,000 to the Oakland Institute, a progressive think tank that studies land reform around the world, where Mittal is executive director and the only salaried employee, according to IRS filings.

“It is our contention that this a possible violation of self-dealing as Mittal is considered a disqualified person under IRS rules,” reads a copy of the complaint prepared by the Virginia-based National Legal and Policy Center.

The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation sent a total of $104,000 in grants to the California-based Oakland Institute where MIttal was paid a combined $156,000 in salary in 2017 and 2018, IRS filings show. Part of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation cash went to finance the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. The controversial human rights group in the West Bank received $3,000 from the foundation in 2017, according to tax filings.

Last year, the European Union pulled nearly $2 million worth of funding from Badil after it refused to sign an “anti-terror” clause in its funding contract. The clause stated that none of the EU’s funds would be diverted to members of terrorist organizations, such as the military wings of Hamas and Hezbollah.

Ben and Jerry's
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation sent a total of $104,000 in grants to the California-based Oakland Institute.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Ben & Jerry’s grant was used to finance “a bold multimedia project on land rights to mark 50 years since the Six-Day War and Israel’s occupation,” according to the Oakland Institute’s 2017 annual report. “Palestine: For Land and Life” documented individual stories of “marginalization and struggle.”

Mittal, 54, is one of the architects of the ice cream company’s boycott in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, where there are more than 600,000 Jews scattered in about 140 settlements. The West Bank and East Jerusalem have been under Israeli control since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Opponents of Israeli policy consider the settlements illegal, and want to grant land rights to Palestinians.

The boycott has spawned a firestorm of criticism, with opponents branding Mittal as well as Ben & Jerry’s founders — Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen — both Jewish — as anti-Semitic, a charge they have vigorously denied.

Born in India, Mittal has long championed land rights in developing countries through the Oakland Institute, which she founded in 2004. She was recruited by Jeff Furman, who served on the Ben & Jerry’s board for nearly 40 years, according to her bio. Furman is now the president of the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.

 Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have denied being anti-Semitic.
Gareth Davies/Getty Images

Mittal did not comment on the complaint Friday. She said that “false allegations” were made about the Oakland Institute and the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.

Source link