If a mayor slips a government paving contract to his son-in-law’s company, that’s an easy-to-understand effort to beat the system.

Prosecutors say the Teachers Group, a reputed cult operating charities in at least 43 countries, has refined this technique by creating overlapping and interlocking organizations that move money among themselves.

Below is a list of people, organizations and relationships, with links to annotated documents, that maps the flow of U.S. money from Planet Aid, a U.S.-based foreign aid contractor, to a subcontractor in southern Africa called Development Aid from People to People (widely known as DAPP), and then to a Teachers Group partnership in Geneva. Taxpayers ended up paying for charitable projects with questionable results, as an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting found last year in when it visited U.S. Department of Agriculture programs in Malawi.

Court documents going back to the early 2000s say the Teachers Group has established “allegedly ‘benevolent’ organizations which were, in fact, little more than front organizations to funnel money back to the Teacher (sic) Group,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Sloan wrote in a June 20, 2002, legal brief assisting Denmark in extraditing Mogens Amdi Petersen, the Teachers Group’s founder.

Seemingly separate charities and companies sent bills to each other posing as independent contractors or consultants, when in fact they were all aliases for a small group of Petersen aides, Sloan claimed in his filings.

Petersen “set up an elaborate chain of overlapping companies, trusts, and other entities,” wrote Sloan, who cited a 1995 letter Petersen had written to his followers stating his desire to disguise the Teachers Group’s finances from authorities by laying down “a twisted access path with only ourselves as compass holders.”

In January, Brazilian prosecutors got the green light to move forward with a money laundering case investigating the Teachers Group’s maze of charities, targeting the Geneva-based Federation for Associations connected to the International Humana People to People Movement, commonly referred to as FAIHPP.

FAIHPP is Swiss partnership of five Teachers Group members who have had roles obtaining, spending and banking U.S. foreign aid money. FAIHPP was registered in 2004 with an address at a six-story building near the Geneva airport.

Below are details of a number of relationships connected to U.S. government funding. Keep in mind as you read that “FAIHPP” and “Humana People to People” are treated as interchangeable in their own documents.

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Matt Smith is a reporter for Reveal, covering religion. Smith's two-decade career in journalism began at The Sacramento Union in California. He went on to positions at newspapers in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Twin Falls, Idaho; Fairfield, California; and Newport News, Virginia. Between 1994 and 1997, Smith covered Latin America as a reporter in Dow Jones & Co.'s Mexico City bureau. For 14 years, he was a lead columnist at Village Voice Media in San Francisco. He came to Reveal from The Bay Citizen. Smith holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Before his career in journalism, Smith was a professional bicycle racer. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.