Scientologists 'facing fraud and extortion charges in Belgium after police probe into criminal organisation''Illegal medicine,
breaches of privacy and extortion charges' have been drawn up against the Church
and two senior executivesOffices in Belgium, where it is considered a 'cult' have been raided
It comes after 15 year investigation into Scientology by authorities
13:35 GMT, 30 December 2012
Belgian federal prosecutors are preparing to bring charges against the Church of Scientology as a 'criminal organisation', it has today been reported.
It is believed the charges of fraud, illegal medicine,
breaches of privacy and extortion have been drawn up against the Church
and two senior executives.
De Tijd, Belgium's financial newspaper, has reported 'The subpoenas have only just been sent to the scientologists.'
Belgian federal prosecutors are preparing to bring charges against the Church of Scientology as a 'criminal organisation'
It is believed the charges relate to employment contracts issued to recruit volunteers and members in breach of Belgium's strict employment laws, the Telegraph reports.
Prosecutors are investigating claims of extortion, illegal use of 'pseudo-medicine' and the keeping of records that go against privacy laws.
According to De Standaard, raids on
Scientology offices in Belgium allegedly revealed evidence that the
group had spied on and extorted money from converts.
A spokesman for the Church's Brussels headquarters said: 'Unfortunately we have not received anything from the prosecutor's office yet. The media have been informed, we have not.'
It is not the first time the church has run into controversy for its techniques and beliefs, which include the rejection of many medical practices and so called psychological 'auditing' of recruits.
In February, an appeals court upheld fraud charges and a 490,000 fine against the Church of Scientology in France for convincing recruits to pay large sums for fake personality tests and cures.
Scientology, which has many famous members including Hollywood actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise, is considered a 'cult' in many European countries
It is believed the church has been under investigation in Belgium for 15 years without any charges.
Scientology, which has many famous members including Hollywood actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise, is considered a 'cult' in many European countries.
While it is regarded as a
religion in the United States, Italy and Spain, it is not recognised as a
church in other European countries such as France, Germany, Belgium and
It has also come under fire recently following the divorce of Mr Cruise and wife Katie Holmes, when it was reported the actress was concerned about their daughter Suri's future involvement with the religion.
The Church of Scientology was set up in Belgium in 1974 and it now has 500 members.
Its European office for 'public affairs and human rights' is based in Brussels offering courses and exhibitions.