A Sweet Deal?
Since 2006 Anuradha Mittal has served as the chair of Ben and Jerry’s board of directors and also as vice-president of the company’s non-profit foundation. In that position she has also contributed money to Oakland Institute, an NGO (A non-government organization) she founded and directs whose aim is to “bring fresh ideas and action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.”
It’s as director of the Oakland Institute that has drawn the attention of a possible financial illegality, self dealing.’ “Self dealing is taking advantage of one’s position to conduct transactions for their own benefit rather than in the interests of a company or clients, which is illegal.”
At issue, according to the Virginia based National Legal and Policy Center, is the contributions by Mittal from Ben and Jerry’s foundation to the Oakland Institute in the amount of $104,000. As director of the Oakland Institute, Mittal contributed $3,000 from it to the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. Badil has both endorsed Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) against Israel “and published anti-Semitic cartoons on its website and imagery promoting the elimination of Israel, which is a widely recognized form of anti-Semitism.” It also lost a $2 million grant from the EU, because they would not sign a guarantee the money would not go to terrorist organizations.
The Center alleges that Mittal has both received wages from the Institute and sent out contributions from the Institute, “a possible violation of self-dealing as Mittal is considered a disqualified person under IRS rules.”
Mittal has praised the action of Ben and Jerry’s to cease selling their ice cream in ‘the Occupied Territories’ by December 2022, a move vigorously condemned by Israeli leaders.
Receiving a salary for a position as Vice-President for the Ben and Jerry’s nonprofit foundation, serving as chair of the company’s board of directors, and funneling money to your own organization to contribute to causes you endorse, truly sounds like a sweet deal, indeed. Perhaps too sweet?
(Sources: The Times of Israel; the NGO Monitor)