The Cosa Norda: The mafia behind Lyoness Scandinavia

Last Thursday, at 20.00 local time, the Danish public television channel TV2 broadcasted an in-depth exposé of the Lyoness racket and the people affiliated with it in Northern Europe (Scandinavia). As the episode is - to our knowledge - not (yet) publicly available to the general public (let alone with - English - subtitles), we will try to tell here what we know about Lyoness' presence in Scandinavia and the people behind its activities there.

The managing director of Lyoness Norway is a man named Terje Duesund. Duesund is anything but a fresh face in the world of 'MLM' in Norway. Together with his 'business' associate, Finn Ørjan Sæle (who reportedly learned his trade while visiting the US on a young age, from his 'mentor' Randy Gage), Duesund was responsible for the Norwegian division of the notorious MLM scam 'Nature's Own' (later, due to intense scrutiny, called 'Natures of Scandinavia').

MD Lyoness Norway: Terje Duesund
Nature's Own gained considerable publicity, and was heavily scrutinized in the Norwegian press for being an illegal pyramid scheme. Government authorities (mainly the Justice department) took a clear stand against the 'company', but were not sufficiently backed by their political superiors and the case stirred up quite some controversy. Well-known member of the Norwegian parliament Anita Apelthun (Christian Democrats - KrF), who reportedly also invested in the scam and propagated it (although she later claimed only to have used the products) - and was even accused in the public debate of trying to influence public prosecutors, is the mother of Sæle; Finn Ørjan's father - Finn Jarle Sæle - was an influential person in the Norwegian press; Norwegian minister of finance at the time, Gudmund Restad, reportedly had three daughters involved in Nature's Own.

In the end, the extensive investigation performed by the Norwegian Justice Department remained unused by the district attorneys with jurisdiction in this case. Nonetheless, the whole happening caused quite the stir in Norway and neighbouring countries, directors and distributors of Nature's Own were furious at the Justice Department for investigating their 'beloved company' and Nature's Own had to change its name to Natures of Scandinavia to escape all negativity. In its best days, the Nature's Own scam had about 600,000 members, most of which were believed to be Norwegians (coming from a country with 4,420,000 inhabitants in 1998). In 2002, the 'company' continued its activities (using the assets of Nature's Own) in the market of cell phone and internet subscriptions under the name 'PGOne'. This corporate structure was later integrated into 'Ventelo'.

Finn Ørjan Sæle 

Probably surprised themselves by the ease with which they got away with their crimes, Sæle and Duesund felt inspired to instigate a long list of follow-up scams in Scandinavia and beyond. According to the Norwegian Wikipedia, Sæle is currently 'leader' of 'ThinkSeven', another 'MLM', which does not seem toe exist anymore. He is also credited with founding and leading 'Zinzino' (from Sweden), which is an 'MLM' that imports store-quality coffee (Rombouts) and coffee machines from other European countries (particularly Belgium and France), and sells these products against an incredible and ridiculous price in Northern and Eastern Europe. This 'company' has met severe scrutiny in (at least) Sweden, Finland (where Zinzino has received television coverage) and Estonia. In Sweden, 'Zinzinotruth' has made considerable, excellent efforts to expose this racket. Nevertheless, the founders of Zinzino are planning on taking their racket to the US.

Other rackets either Sæle or Duesund have been involved with include Spinglo/Synkronice, SaferWaver (preying on the fear of people for all sorts of radiation), Bewell and DailyPoker. Also, the other racket discussed in the TV2 documentary, 'Kyäni' (supposedly American), boasts a book called '12 ways/steps to success with Kyäni' - when analysed, the Danish journalists came to the conclusion that this is the exact same book that was pushed by Nature's Own in 2003. In other words, many of the scams present in Scandinavia revolve around the same people, and most of the scams popping up in Scandinavia seem to be instigated and promoted by either Duesund or Sæle, or people that can be linked to them (like Peter Jakobsson in Sweden and Lyoness member Jimmy Larsen from Denmark).

For more information on MLM scams in general, please make sure to check David Brear's excellent Blog:

The TV2 episode can be watched here. Later, we hope that someone will publish the episode somewhere else, in order to make it available to a wider, non-Danish public.

No comments:

Post a Comment