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.’
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.