THE French branch of Scientology has been fined €600,000 for “fraud in an organised gang,” – but can continue to operate.
The Tribunal Correctionnel de Paris fined its two main structures, the Paris Celebrity Center and a library, the SEL, €400,000 and €200,000 respectively, while the French leader Alain Rosenberg was fined €30,000 and given a two-year suspended sentence.
However French Scientology will not be banned from its activities, the court said, as “there would be a risk they would continue to operate illegally.”
The judgement follows legal action brought by two former Scientologists who accused the organisation of conning them out of tens of thousands of euros.
Las month there was controversy after it was discovered that an obscure part of a new French law meant courts could no longer totally dissolve organisations found guilty of fraud. However it was widely thought a ban on operating might still be enforced by the court.
Scientology, considered a cult in France but a religion in the USA, was founded by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1954 and claims to have 12 million followers worldwide, including 45,000 in France.
The lawyer for the organisation said they would appeal immediately.