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Harold Robles (rechts) met op de voorgrond Desmond Tutu. © Foto Tom van Dijke

Harold Robles discredited once again

The MKI Foundation, which involves a number of leading Dutch entrepreneurs, is involved in a scandal. The reason for this is a serious conflict involving 'president and founder' Harold Robles. He resigned after being accused by the board of improper use of foundation money, abuse of academic titles and forgery.

The MKI Foundation, the Medical Knowledge Institute, is a very small organisation that tries to prevent deaths caused by curable diseases in the slums of Southern Africa by providing education and training.

MKI made national news last year. Back then, the foundation brought it's patron, archbishop Desmond Tutu, to the Netherlands. In honor of his visit and in support of MKI football club FC Twente even played a home game in shirts with a MKI print.

After extensively researching the foundation's finances the two remaining boardmembers (chairman Cees Boonen and treasurer Bas van Wersch) state that for years Robles and his wife claimed almost as much money for themselves as was spent on activities in South Africa. For a long time the board had insufficient knowledge of this because the accounting was done by Robles's wife, who also got payed for her work. Robles dismisses the criticism as jealousy and is planning on continuing his work with a different foundation, The Health Teachers.

Research done by this newspaper shows that Harold Robles, during his time as 'president and founder' of MKI, spent years using a variety of fake titles, such as professor, doctor, epidemiologist and even jonkheer (a Dutch honorific of nobility).

He also presented himself as president emeritus of the Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities (ASIH) in the United States. This honorary title was one of the merits that were taken into account when Robles was awarded a Royal decoration in april 2009. According to director David T. Ives of the Schweitzer Institute Robles was 'absolutely' never given the title of president emeritus. He does not want Robles to associate himself in any way with the prestigious Schweitzer Institute after he was sued by the institute for misappropriation of money and goods in 1999. Robles was ordered by the court to pay 110.000 dollars to the Schweitzer Institute.