Scientologists guilty of fraud

2009-10-27 13:11

Paris - A Paris court on Tuesday convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud and fined it more than half a million euros - but stopped short of banning the group as requested by prosecutors.

The group's French branch immediately announced it would appeal the verdict.

The court convicted the Church of Scientology's French office, its library and six of its leaders of fraud. Investigators said the group pressured members into paying large sums of money for questionable financial gain and used "commercial harassment" against recruits.

The group was fined €400 000 and the library €200 000. Four of the leaders were given suspended sentences of between 10 months and two years. The other two were given fines of €1 000 and 2 000.

The court did not order the Church of Scientology to shut down, ruling that it would be likely to continue its activities anyway, "outside any legal framework".

Prosecutors had requested that the group be dissolved in France and be fined €2 million.

The Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology, founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, has been active for decades in Europe, but has struggled to gain status as a religion. It is considered a sect in France and has faced prosecution and difficulties in registering its activities in many countries.

Defence lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve said during the trial that neither the Church of Scientology nor the six leaders on trial had gained financially from the group's practices.

The original complaint in the case dates back more than a decade, when a young woman said she took out loans and spent the equivalent of 21 000 on books, courses and "purification packages" after being recruited in 1998. When she sought reimbursement and to leave the group, its leadership refused. She was among three eventual plaintiffs.

Investigating judge Jean-Christophe Hullin spent years examining the group's activities, and in his indictment criticised what he called the Scientologists' "obsession" with financial gain and practices he said were aimed at plunging members into a "state of subjection".

The Church of Scientology teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems. It claims 10 million members around the world, including celebrity devotees Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Belgium, Germany and other European countries have been criticised by the US State Department for labelling Scientology as a cult or sect and enacting laws to restrict its operations.

  • KOBUS - 2009-10-27 13:30

    You must admit that Ron L. Hubbard had quite a good idea. He wrote a lot of Sci-Fi drivel, and then probably thought "Hmmm, why don't I tell people this is all for real and charge them money to take part? There are enough fools that will fall for it!"

  • Be aware - 2009-10-27 13:38

    This is a cult started by the Freemasons, really sad that our world is turning to such false mesiah's, Allah help us!

  • Nontheist - 2009-10-27 13:46

    All religions are frauds. The scientologists are just not as good at it as the others and they got caught out.

  • rob - 2009-10-27 13:56

    anyone who is a member of this hocus pocus cult deserves to be fleeced

  • aA TANGOCCI - 2009-10-27 14:16

    Scientology has taken money from a lot of people for a long time. The real culprits are the idiots who think that salvation comes form buying a record player from the church and signing up for 150000 years. Although scientology is a real farce, they prey on brain impaired people willing to pay money for perceived purification. As it takes two to tango, both the plaintiff and the defendant in this court case should plead insanity.

  • JC - 2009-10-27 14:16

    And once again the lesson is - only practice safe sects!

  • Niel - 2009-10-27 14:26

    Whats worse? Scientology or Christianity?

  • Harold Jansen - 2009-10-27 14:30

    The quote "the Scientologists' "obsession" with financial gain and practices he said were aimed at plunging members into a "state of subjection" " Refers to all institutionalised religion.

  • Solly - 2009-10-27 14:35

    For a reality check, scientologists should watch the "Southpark" episode dealing with this.

  • Roy Roux - 2009-10-27 14:37

    If people receive a proper education both in science and in literature, then they would not fall prey so easily to such farfetched mythologies as Scientology. I doubt whether governments should have the right to harass or ban such organisations, even when they become as predatory and commercialised as Scientology. If people want to spend lots of money to become a godlike creature, then it should be their uninformed right to be misguided by that avaricious bunch of charlatans. It sounds absurd that any government could know what is good or bad for us in this realm of things.

  • Andre Lotz - 2009-10-27 15:04

    To KOBUS: it's patently obvious that you get your uninformed opinions from the mainstram media. If you have ever read a Scientology book you would then be qualified to comment on it -- before then, not. You would only be able to follow the opinions of others, as you do. In my first 8 years in Scientology I spent the princely sum of R300, all on books. I applied the data to others and saved lives of people who did not know or care what I had read.

  • Typical - 2009-10-27 15:18

    @Niel -Hey!!!, dont bring other religions into this, just comment on what the topic is about. Its not about the religion, its about the people that make it bad, I dont believe in scientology by the way but i wont be the one to judge either.Maybe it is a hoax who knows! fraud is fraud, PEOPLE do it. Get over it...or make the world a better place if you dont like it.

  • Not Freemasons - 2009-10-27 15:18

    The freemasons didn't start Scientology, a international author who started believing his own lies did. I have read some of their books and ended up classing it as "comedy". People who believe that sitting under a pyramid aligns your mental faculties need a good shrink. They are a sect. Members have died while under their "care" for mental problems.

  • DH - 2009-10-27 15:22

    Let's just hope they don't get to the Naked Running church of SA...

  • mack - 2009-10-27 15:35

    Roy Roux - nobody has ever said it better -bravo !

  • andre lotz - 2009-10-27 15:36

    To BE AWARE: A quote from the Creed of the Church Of Scientology: "We of the Church believe that all men have inalienable rights to their own religious practices and their performance". As a Volunteer Minister, I was trained, if I helped someone to also enquire whether they were following their chosen religion, and if not, to contact their minister and try and reconcile them. I have done this several times. I respect the religions of others and would highly recommend it to you as a means to a happier life.

  • Corry - 2009-10-27 15:58

    Wake up call folks. All religions are a cult, bent on making money and subjugating its followers. Scientology just following the lead of the "major" religions/brainwashers

  • PAR - 2009-10-27 16:08

    How can you compare Scientology to Christianity? Christianity done right is all about LOVE - just unfortunate that some practice a warped version because the world would be a wonderful place if everyone got it right.

  • graham - 2009-10-27 16:15

    I boycott all of Tom Cruise and John Travolta's movies. I want nothing to do with any sects and religions. What I believe is my own business and nobody elses.

  • Sauvignon - 2009-10-27 17:22

    @JC - ROFL! "safe sects"!

  • GTD - 2009-10-27 17:33

    Anyone who has read anything in Scientology knows actually states that man should be able to follow any religion or belief. Southpark showed the popular myths about Scientology and there is absolutely no exposure to the lives that have been saved through proven scientology procedures - even the medical profession has questioned how some south african san procedures work that happen to coincide with scientology procedures .. the both work. A christian would say its a miracle - san and scientology know that it works. LRH wrote fiction Sci-fi but of the procedures he spent a lifetime writing about his learnings and what could be proved scientifically. Somehow only the scifi gets out to the public. We all do what works for us and pay money to whom we believe in .. no crime in that.

  • fodder - 2009-10-27 18:36

    if you go to a shrink/witch doctor it will cost you also,i took one course and realised the score, the 1st course was quite educational,a book also costs get one from the library,a lawayer also charges with a fork,if you wana play you gotta pay only B.E.E, is free.

  • Niel - 2009-10-27 22:54

    Xenu wil get all of us non-believers!

  • pages:
  • 1