Oriflame employee charged in Iran

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Multi-level marketing, Iran

A Swedish-Iranian employee of the direct seller Oriflame has been charged in Iran over setting up a pyramid scheme, according to press reports.

The man, in his thirties, has been charged with establishing the scheme and making illegal earnings from it, according to news agency the AFP.

Officials from the Swedish foreign ministry were in Iran earlier in the week, amidst reports that the company were using its position to threaten Iran’s security and supply Western intelligence.

Last week, the Oriflame office in Tehran was shut, and five of its employees were arrested over allegations of illegal activity by the Iranian authorities.

Iran’s intelligence Minister, Heydar Moslehi, came out days later claiming Oriflame were trying to harm Iran’s security, amid accusations there were fraudulent and illegal activity taking place.

"Oriflame intended to fight the system. There are no economic reasons behind the company,"​ he was quoted by state television as telling reporters in Tehran.

Initially there were disputes over the closure, which followed Iran’s commerce and culture ministries’ decision to block its local internet site after branding it ‘illegal’.

At that time, Gabriel Bennet, Oriflame’s CFO, defended his organisation’s practice stating it was not involved in any illegal activity.

Business model

He suggested the reason for the arrests and the closure of the Tehran office, was down to Iranian authorities dislike of the organisation’s business model.

The Swedish company give 40,000 Iranian women the chance to work in a direct sales environment, and Bennet highlighted this to CosmeticsDesign.com USA last week.

He denied allegations of a pyramid scheme as ‘ridiculous’, and stated the only interest at this stage was to provide support to those colleagues that had been arrested.

"We are a cosmetics company, we are selling direct. We are of course not involved in any political activities in the country ​[Iran]. It is very very difficult to comment on ​[the accusations]"​ Bennet told AFP, today in response to the latest developments.

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