Science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard founded Scientology in 1952 - it claims 12 million members worldwide
The Church of Scientology was convicted of organised fraud in France today in a ground-breaking judgment which denounced the cult for swindling vulnerable members out of thousands of euros.
The church was ordered to pay fines totalling €600,000, and Alain Rosenberg, its leader in France, was fined €30,000 and given a two-year suspended sentence.
Five other French scientologists were given fines of between €1,000 and €20,000.
But Paris Criminal Court stopped short of banning scientology altogether in France, on the grounds that prohibition could drive it underground where it would be difficult to control.