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Scientologists accused of brainwashing French company’s employees

media The employees' lawyer, Olivier Morice Reuters/Jacky Naegelen

French prosecutors are investigating the Church of Scientology for alleged harassment of the employees of a company whose boss had joined the organisation. The workers claim that Scientologist trainers tried to brainwash them and embezzled up to two millions euros from the firm.

The 12 employees of building firm Arcadia, based at Voisins-le-Bretonneux near Paris, claim that Scientologists became “omnipresent” in the business after their boss turned to the cult following the death of one of his children in 2000.

In 2008 he restructured the company following the advice of trainers they say were Scientologists.

The plaintiffs say they were forced to undergo a “training routine” which amounted to psychological harassment.

Sales staff were told they were “spoilt children” and otherwise insulted and forced to sit face to face without moving for two hours, they claim.

Other exercises included reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and repeating certain phrases as if they had thought of them and then repeat “Fish swim and birds fly”.

“These exercises were not imposed so that the employees work better but with the aim of enslaving and make them subservient,” their lawyer, Olivier Morice, told the AFP news agency.

“The scientologist trainers infiltrated the company with the sole intention of financially pillaging it for their personal profit and that of Scientology,” he said, estimating that between one and two million euros had been embezzled.

Sources confirmed that prosecutors in Versailles are investigating the charges.

Scientology, founded by science-fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1952, claims to be a religion but is classified as a cult in France.

In 2013 France’s appeals court confirmed fines of 200,000 and 400,000 euros on its bookshop and “Celebrity Centre” in Paris for organised fraud.

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