Damanhur Inside Out

Former Damanhurians on the outside talk about life on the inside

Damanhur – Fraud and corruption exposed by ‘Report’

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On the 3rd of June 2012, the Italian public television channel RAI3 broadcast a program on Damanhur as part of its new investigative series ‘Off the Report’ produced by Milena Gabanelli and Sigfrido Ranucci. The investigation, by journalist Emanuele Bellano takes an in depth look at various aspects of Community life including the voting practices Damanhur used to take over  the Council of Vidracco to further its own political and economic aims. The program also features interviews with Falco, Damanhur’s charismatic leader, local and national politicians, state administrators, magistrates, current and former members of the Community. The investigation examines a wide range of issues concerning the nature of Damanhur and the source of its economic wealth.

The 25-minute video entitled ‘La Comunita’ by Emanuele Bellano can be seen in two parts on Youtube below. The video is in Italian but it may be issued with English subtitles in the future.

Until such time …DIO offers a transcript of the programme in English for those of you who do not speak Italian but are eager to hear what the investigation has to say.

Our thanks go to RAI3 producers Milena Gabanelli and Sigfrido Ranucci and journalist Emanuele Bellano for finally bringing the dark side of Damanhur out into the light.

Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTiMM0lD43g

Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZYGPuVJrUc&feature=endscreen&NR=1

Transcript: Off the Report – 6 June 2012

The Community

by Emanuele Bellano

In Valchiusella between Turin and Ivrea there is a Community of a thousand people who have chosen a life in harmony with nature. It is called Damanhur, which in Egyptian means City of Light. Its founder is Oberto Airaudi but as living in the Community means entering a different dimension of life, whoever joins chooses a new name, his name is Falco. He lives in a splendid villa in one of these small villages immersed in the countryside.

Oberto Airaudi – (Falco) – Leader of Damanhur

The spirit of Damanhur is represented by the desire to create a society in which we are the creators rather than subjects.

Emanuele Bellano

What are the founding elements of Damanhurian society?

Oberto Airaudi

Solidarity, people work to maintain themselves and support one another reciprocally, being creative, making things with your hands, leaving a positive mark in time.

Angela Toninelli – (Formica Coriandolo) – Damanhur Public Relations

The human being is part of a subtle spiritual ecosystem just as we are part of an environmental ecosystem. In this spiritual ecosystem there are many different forms. They range from nature spirits, those that many cultures anthropomorphize and turn into gnomes and fairies etc., to arrive at different levels, finally reaching that of the divine, which can be thought of as a higher level.

Narrator

Anyone deciding to live in Damanhur transfers to Valchiusella and goes to live in one of the houses belonging to the Community.

Marco Camatteri – (Calabrone) – citizen of Damanhur

The part we are in here is part of the old house. If you had come here perhaps five years ago it would have been a quarter or a fifth of the size it is now. Obviously there was room for fewer people.

EB

How many people are you now?

Marco Camatteri

Nineteen, plus four children, the most recent was born here, Sirio.

EB

A home birth?

Marco Camatteri

Yes, in the old part of the house and that part there we built as an extension. Obviously everyone has a room and couples share a room. I share a room because I have a partner and then we have communal spaces like the sitting room and this beautiful dining room where we eat. We used eco-sustainable building methods, with rooms facing south and corridors facing north. Large windows illuminate the communal areas.

Carla Dacomo – (Pellicano Altea) – citizen of Damanhur

These are paintings by Falco. This is one is very old. This is one of his first. And this is a photo of Falco that I saved which goes with me everywhere, more for sentimental reasons than anything else.

EB

In 2009 the Ivrea tax authorities investigated the leader for tax evasion amounting to 4 million euro. It resulted in Falco negotiating with the income tax office and paying a fine of 1 million, 700,000 euro.

Oberto Airaudi – (Falco) – Leader of Damanhur

You want to know what I think about it? I am quite happy to tell you. At the moment Italian citizens are not currently in a position to defend themselves against the Inland Revenue. What happened to me has happened to others.

Narrator

The problems Airaudi had with the tax authorities seem to be obscure to members of the institutions, magistrates and ex-magistrates who participate in conferences that Damanhur organizes in its conference centre.

EB

I know you are here today to discuss the theme of tax evasion. Did you know that the leader Oberto Airaudi was investigated by the Inland Revenue for evading taxes that amounted to 4 million euro and settled by paying 1 million 700,000 euro.

Gherardo Colombo – ex-magistrate

If I find it hard to understand the tax system, how on earth can I hope to understand something like that…I believe that the law should be respected, always but I would also need to see the context.

Narrator

According to someone who was once part of Damanhur but has now left, Oberto Airaudi is much more than just a simple leader.

Former member of the Community

At the beginning you see Oberto Airaudi as a Master but then you begin to know that he is not just a Master, he is also the incarnation of the divinity and not only that, he even comes from the future.

EB

From the outside his creation appears to be a happy Community living in harmony with nature but those who have left tell a different story.

Former member of the Community

Damanhur today, is something we could to all effect define as a cult.

EB

What does it mean to enter Damanhur?

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

You change your name, you change language. There is a language, which is adopted inside the Community. You are obliged to justify every aspect of yourself from a personal, economical, sexual and sentimental point of view. Often you lose your job and contact with your family, especially if they are not favourably inclined towards Damanhur. You lose many things. You lose the sense of your own life.

EB

How is the psychological dependence created?

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

The psychological dependence is created through the structure of a cult. An ideal is put forward, the idea of creating a utopia, the promise of eternity and little by little oaths are sworn. People swear to secrecy and total obedience. It is well constructed this mechanism. Everything is delivered in small doses mixing partial truths with mystification.

EB

We have talked with people who used to be part of the Community and they have told us a totally different story.

Oberto Airaudi

Naturally 

EB

Why do you say “naturally”?

Oberto Airaudi

Naturally, because with a 37-year history it’s normal that people are produced with favourable or less favourable opinions. There are also those who fail or do not make the grade and in doing so, one way or another, have to find someone else to take responsibility for their failure.

Narrator

When you talk about Damanhur in the valley it is not only the ex-members who ask to remain anonymous but also the local administrators.

Administrator of a local body

Just so that you understand that I do not want to be in the position of being the only one who talks, otherwise these people will finish me off. Also the people who gave me documents said “I will give you the documents but don’t say that I gave them to you!” I have a family. This is the situation. They have friends in the right places. Now they are holding a conference with Tinti, Maddalena and Colombo!

Narrator

The conference that the Mayor was talking about was held the next day in the Damanhur conference hall. The most important guest was Marcello Maddalena, Public Prosecutor of the Turin Court of Appeal. Maddalena is a well-known guest at Damanhur. He is on good terms with the leader and has participated in other conferences organized by Damanhur in the past. At the last minute he cancelled his appearance but was substituted by Giorgio Vitari, Public Prosecutor of the Court of Ivrea, accompanying him was Giuseppe Marra from the Court of Turin and two famous ex-magistrates Gherado Colombo and Bruno Tinti. Tinti is a close friend of Airaudi and knows a lot about the Community. He even declared to newspapers that the Italian justice system should take a leaf out of Damanhur’s book. Piero Fassino is also a visitor along with the politicians, Mercedes Bresso, Luciano Violante and Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio.

Oberto Airaudi

Try and guess what they want. Votes. The politicians want votes.

EB

But, in exchange? What do politicians give in return for Damanhurian votes?

Oberto Airaudi

Absolutely nothing, perhaps there might have been something but usually absolutely nothing.

Narrator

In actual fact, the Comunity of Damanhur has entered into politicians’ agenda more than once. In 1994, for example, the Carabinieri discovered the hidden Temple of Damanhur, an underground structure excavated without permission. The Lega Nord Senator Bruno Matteja who had recently been elected to Parliament proposed an amendment to the law to allow underground works of artistic merit larger than 750,000 cubic metres. The law was approved and the only building in Italy which benefited, was the Temple of Damanhur.

Reporter – historical news footage – Piemonte 27.4.1996

Are you satisfied?

Oberto Airaudi

Yes, we are satisfied because it demonstrates that we are inside the law and we have to respect it in any case.

Narrator

But the Lega Nord Senator was not the only Member of Parliament to occupy himself with the Community in Valchiusella.

Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio – ex – President of the Green Party

Grazia Francescata, before that Stefano Boco, Maurizio Perroni, other Parliamentarians in particular Senators who have overseen the creation of laws to regulate all these ‘unconventional religious realities’ for want of a better word.

EB

And you as a Community did you support any of these politicians that have visited you?

Oberto Airaudi

Oh yes, as far as the Region is concerned, Mercedes Bresso because she is an open and honest person.

Narrator

It is the spring of 2005 in Piemonte there is an election for the President of the Region. Supporting Mercedes Bresso are all the major left-wing parties and the Damanhurian political party ‘Con Te per il Paese’, which collects votes in Valchiusella.

Mercedes Bresso

We believe that we are people who have the ability to do things, to construct our own future.

Narrator

When she was elected she nominated Valter Marenco one of the leaders and politicians of the Community of Damanhur to the CDA, the public company ‘Environment Park’ that is involved in renewable energy and eco-sustainable construction.

Valter Marenco – (Gorilla Eucalipto) – District Councillor for Lugnacco

The political dialogue is very simple. It is not that we are interested in being on the left or the right or in the centre. What we are most interested in is the protection of the area, the discourse on renewable energies and we therefore pushed these subjects with the Greens.

Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio – ex-President of the Green Party

Basically they joined the Greens, they presented electoral lists and they participated in the life of the Piemonte Green Party.

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

They entered inside its political mechanisms with the intention of reaching Parliament in Rome: this was the declared objective.

Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio – ex-President of the Green Party

The most important figure was the Mayor of Vidracco Council, I believe, who was also in inverted commas ‘a political authority’.

Narrator

Antonio Nigro who in that period was Mayor of Vidracco and known in Damanhur as Bisonte Quercia, enters the Provincial Committee of the Greens, where in 2008 he is elected President. Then in 2009, the Piemonte Greens make him their candidate for the European Parliament. But the coalition does not win any seats and Bisonte Quercia’s political race towards Brussels stops there.

Valter Marenco – (Gorilla Eucalipto) – District Councillor for Lugnacco

We played with that experience and it was played out at a high level in Damanhur in terms of the energy that everyone put in to arrive at that point. We are not just a handful of people we are an important force. We represent important numbers of people.

Narrator

Damanhur with its political movement Con Te per il Paese today represents one of the most powerful political forces in Valchiusella. It has twenty elected Councillors and for ten years it has administered the Council of Vidracco, where, since 2010 the opposition has also been Damanhurian.

Vidracco resident – man

In Vidracco there is no democracy anymore. No democratic alternation.

EB

Why do you say there is no democracy?

Vidracco resident

Because the Community of Damanhur has more people than we do and they always win.

EB

How do Vidracco residents feel about living with Damanhur? Do you mind if I ask?

Vidracco resident – woman

We are not happy

EB

Why not?

Vidracco resident – woman

Because they do everything for their own benefit and nothing for the village.

EB

They have presented themselves as a political movement haven’t they?

Vidracco resident – woman

Yes.

EB

Did the people of Vidracco vote for them?

Vidracco resident – woman

No, the Damanhurians voted themselves in.

Narrator

According to the testimonies we collected the last few elections in Valchiusella were carried out in a less than a reassuring manner. In 2009 certain Mayors of the area denounced anomalous movements of residents to the Prefect of Turin.

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

The residencies of Damanhurians were moved to the municipality in which elections were being held.

EB

How does it work?

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

The leaders of the political movement plan the electoral movement of residencies. It is decided in advance which Council or Councils are the objective and on the basis of these calculations they decide how many citizens to move. This can mean perhaps only tens of voters but in villages in which there are only 400 – 500 residents, moving 50 people means having 10% of the vote. I officially changed my residency 9 times while I was in Damanhur.

EB

Can we see the documentation of this movement of residencies?

Federico Steffenina – Mayor of Vistrorio

In 90% of cases the requests for residency arrive just before the closure of the electoral role. Those who are included in the electoral register are then allowed to vote in that council area. This is an example of normal changes in the register: someone arrives and someone leaves. In 2006 there were 11 people, in 2008 there were 9. In 2009, elections were held in the other villages. In Vistrorio,  there was no election because we vote the year after. Voting took place in Vidracco, Baldissero and all the other places in the valley. The result was this:

We go from 9 changes of residency in 2008 to 31 in 2009. They are the same people who came to Vistrorio to vote in the previous election. For example Failla Claudio who arrived in 2005 then leaves in 2009 and goes to vote in Baldissero.

Valter Marenco – (Gorilla Eucalipto) – District Councillor for Lugnacco

It is not that these movements have anything to do with elections. In our philosophy, seeing as we live in Community houses, we often move around. We also like to be playful to avoid habits forming, to defeat the monotony.

Narrator

The denouncement of the Mayors led to nothing because the Prefect of Ivrea asked for it to be archived but anomalous movements of residencies have happened in other nearby villages. In Baldissero, Canavese in 2010 the year in which voting took place for the Council, 50 new residents arrived. Most of them were Damanhurians. The following year when there were no elections there were only 18 new residents.

Administrator of a local body

It makes you understand that, all this maneuvering is about putting a cross on a voting form and then being able to say, “ There you are, I have elected a Councillor in Vistrorio, 3 Councillors in Lugnacco, 2 Councillors here, 2 Councillors there”. And what does it mean? It means that my political movement is one that extends throughout the area and when I go to beat the drum for Mercedes Bresso who has to present herself in the Regional elections, I can say “Look how many District Councillors I have elected around the place…Look how many votes I got:  4,000 votes, 5,000 votes. All of that to create a political consensus.”

EB

Looking at things in general, the citizens of Damanhur, apart from the fact that Damanhur has a political movement, which could indicate a vote. A Damanhurian citizen is still an Italian citizen and they don’t have to be part of that movement if they don’t want to do they?

Oberto Airaudi

We talk together and we hold a general assembly to decide how to vote.

EB

All together… all the citizens of Damanhur?

Oberto Airaudi

Yes, in our meetings.

EB

So, the citizens of Damanhur… if they decide to vote for a certain candidate, vote for that candidate?

Oberto Airaudi

Yes, one hopes that they vote for that candidate.

EB

So in the Community were you told who to vote for?

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

No, not exactly. We held a meeting. We created, simulated polling stations, with fake officials and facsimile voting papers and then we were told, “ You have to vote for this person, this person and this person. After you have voted you must telephone to say you have voted”. And then it would all be checked because if you are voting in a council district and there are 12 Damanhurian candidates in the Damanhurian list, if there are not 12 votes for each of those candidates, then someone must have made a mistake and they are punished.

Narrator

The pivot on which the Damanhurian Community revolves is the Council of Vidracco both the ruling party of the Council and the opposition are Damanhurian. And then in Vidracco there is Damanhur Crea an old Olivetti factory building that Damanhur bought a few years ago and transformed into its general quarters. There are companies that specialise in renewable energies, eco-building, agriculture and wine production. These blocks of flats for example have been built in the last few years. They were built by the Damanhurian building Cooperative Atalji.

Stefania Podda – (Coniglio Cicuta) – Architect

The building Cooperative Atalji asked permission in 2004 to construct the first two blocks of flats. They were built and now there are four.

Narrator

The Cooperative and the Council sit round the table and decide what to do. The Council modify the urban planning map to create a large plot where they will construct a series of buildings, fix the sale price of the land and increase the building index from 0.70 cm/sqm to 0.97 cm/sqm. The whole area is then purchased by the Cooperative Atalji for around 300,000 euro. Then the Cooperative begins to build. Four blocks of flats have already been completed and another should be built in the coming months. 

EB

You are a citizen of Damanhur besides being the Mayor of Vidracco, what is your Damanhurian name?

Antonio Bernini (Elfo Frassino) – Mayor of Vidracco

Elfo Frassino.

EB

The Council is run by Damanhur’s political movement. The land is acquired by a Damanhurian Cooperative. Don’t you think there could be a conflict of interest in all of this?

Antonio Bernini (Elfo Frassino) – Mayor of Vidracco

Not in my opinion.

Narrator

In Vidracco the ruling party decided to install photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Town Hall. The installation was built by Solera s.r.l. The president of Solera is Valter Marenco, a Damanhurian, entrepreneur and District Councillor.

EB

If in your capacity as a public administrator you were in the position of having to decide between something that was in the public interest and something that was in Damanhur’s interest and there was conflict between the two what would you decide?

Valter Marenco – (Gorilla Eucalipto) – District Councillor for Lugnacco

What would I choose? Mmm…Well…really I do not see any reason why I should find myself in such a position what is dealt with by the Council and the interests of Damanhur are very far apart.

EB

We are talking about really ordinary things like urban planning or requests for building permission that are under discussion it could be anything at all.

Valter Marenco – (Gorilla Eucalipto) – District Councillor for Lugnacco

If you had ever been a District Councillor you would know that the Building Commission does its part and the Council does something else and a Councillor cannot interfere. 

EB

But you vote don’t you? You vote in the Council for certain things. There could be situations that produce a conflict of this kind?

Valter Marenco – (Gorilla Eucalipto) – District Councillor for Lugnacco

No, I don’t think so.

Narrator

Even though the Village of Vidracco has only 500 inhabitants the Damanhurian administration is thinking of building an incinerator in the area.

Mayor of Vistrorio – public meeting

This reunion is being held because we want to inform you of something that is planned for Valchiusella, not far from here, we are talking of a kilometre or so away. At the end of March, beginning of April the Council received an order from the Allocation of Services, which talked about the construction of a biomass electricity generating plant. We looked at the project and without being engineers or holders of higher degrees, we found ourselves faced with what we understood to be or what seems to be an incinerator.

Narrator

The Council with this aim in mind creates a public company called ‘Vidracco Energia’. In 2011 the Council nominates Alberto Filetti, accountant and Damanhurian citizen as the Administrator of the company. Alberto Filetti lives in Valchiusella but his business interests extend as far as London. He is the Administrator of 23 companies in England all with a capital of one pound, with registered headquarters at 34 Buckingham Palace Road. Not a trace was found of the office or businesses of Filetti. The other Administrator of the companies is another Italian, Claudio Giordanetti, a professional from Biella who has various business interests.

EB

You both have 23 companies registered at Buckingham Palace Road in the city of London.

Claudio Giordanetti – Entrepreneur

Yes, in fact we set them up but they are sleeping companies.

EB

Sleeping? What are they for then? Where are you doing with those companies?

Claudio Giordanetti

We set them up because we had a company, again in London, that told us it would put us in touch with important banks so that we could raise capital in London.

EB

And that was to do what, to finance projects?

Claudio Giordanetti

Yes, projects we wanted to put together here in Italy.

There are things that you can do in this world that are perfectly legal.

Nothing illegal. It’s not that we are talking about something illegal. I never do anything illegal. Legal things, that if you get to be known, people then trust you.

EB

What kind of projects did you want to do with these companies?

Alberto Filetti – (lemming Cactus) – Accountant

Well there were different kinds of projects but I am sure that you can understand that as a freelance professional I prefer not to discuss my projects.

EB

Damanhur has a role in the management of these companies in London perhaps investments as partners?

Alberto Filetti

Absolutely not, they are things that I am involved in as part of my work as a freelance professional.

Narrator

The Damanhur’s economic power over the area is very strong. The Community is among other things the owner of two building cooperatives, Atalji and the Peal

Igino Meme’- (Uria Sedono)- president of the Coop Peal

The Peal was founded in 1992. It is the one with the most real estate. Its commercial value is around 15 million euro.

Narrator

The two cooperatives in total are worth around 30 million euro in property holdings.

Pietro Coticoni – Lawyer of an ex-Damanhurian

And all this money… where has it come from?

EB

Where do you think it has come from?

Pietro Coticoni

Where do you think it has come from? Well one can only imagine it has come from the followers.

Former Community member

From the moment you enter the Community you are expected to give all you have.

EB

How much money did you give to the Community?

Former Community member

All the money I had. We are talking in the order of several hundreds of thousands of euro.

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

Over the course of the years, I gave over three hundred thousand euro to the Community 

EB

If I decide to enter Damanhur and I have a house and land, what happens to this property?

Oberto Airaudi

It is possible that if the person feels its right for them and chooses that particular type of citizenship, that they sell their property or part of it and put the money into a Damanhurian enterprise or company.

Angela Toninelli – (Formica Coriandolo) – Damanhur Public Relations

You arrive here to give and not to take. If you go to live in a Community to take instead of give, the Community does not exist, it declines. The principle is

you enter the Community because you want to bring your contribution to it and this can be done in many ways.

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

There is a monthly quota that every citizen has to pay which is around a thousand euro. Apart from that quota there are constant donations that have to be given to fundraising efforts, which are made publicly. Then there are monthly instalments to be paid off for the purchase of objects created by Airaudi such as selfic paintings and magic instruments, that are suppose to confer powers of various kinds on those who possess them. Then there are the payments for Airaudi’s courses, which are always obligatory and held inside Damanhur. We are talking about courses for communicating with aliens, travelling in time or for connecting with past lives and things of that nature.

EB

And where does all the money end up?

Former Public Relations Officer of Damanhur

Partly in the centralised management of Damanhur and partly straight into the hands and pockets of Airaudi.

Oberto Airaudi

You seem to be someone with a considerable amount of wealth. Yes I have a good income, which can be verified by my annual tax returns. But I have always done well.

EB

May I ask you where this income comes from?

Oberto Airaudi

Yes, certainly, from courses, paintings and prana-therapy, those are the business activities that I am primarily engaged in.

Narrator

Oberto Airaudi is the owner of 109 pieces of real estate in the Provinces of Turin, Imperia and Teramo, which include numerous pieces of land and houses all over the Valchiusella, like this two-storey block of flats in Balengero and this other one nearby. And then he also owns a part of this villa in Cuceglio, which was constructed using the latest eco-sustainable building techniques and houses a therapeutic swimming pool filled with salt water. He travels in a luxury motor home and flies a helicopter, which he lands in the garden of his house where he has built a heliport.

EB

May I ask to whom does the helicopter belong?

Oberto Airaudi

The helicopter is an ultra-light and is registered in my name.

EB

How is it possible that you have accumulated all this wealth?

Oberto Airaudi

I work very hard you know…what do you think!

EB

Oberto Airaudi better known as Falco was not yet thirty when he founded this Community, which now has a thousand members in a valley of only 5,000 people.

The Community is growing and, as we can see from their web site, it now has centres in Austria, Croatia, Germany and Japan.

Written by damanhurinsideout

June 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm

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