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Swedish cosmetics worker charged in Iran

AFP/The Local · 29 Aug 2010, 17:54

Published: 29 Aug 2010 00:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Aug 2010 17:54 GMT+02:00

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"He has been formally charged with establishing a pyramid scheme and deriving illegal earnings from it," ministry spokeswoman Camilla Åkesson Lindblom told AFP.

She said the employee was a man in his thirties who held both Swedish and Iranian nationalities.

The Tehran office of Swedish direct-sales cosmetics company Oriflame was shut down by authorities on August 22 and five of its employees were arrested amid allegations that it was running a pyramid scheme and was possibly backed by a spy agency.

On Saturday, Iran's intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi accused the firm of trying to harm Iran's security.

"Oriflame intended to fight the (Iranian) system. There are no economic reasons behind the company," he was quoted by state television as telling reporters at the Imam Khomeini mausoleum in Tehran.

The company's chief financial officer said the company was not involved in any political activities and had not been told why its Iranian operations were shut down.

"We are a cosmetics company, we are selling direct. We are of course not involved in any political activities in the country. It is very very difficult to comment on" the accusations, Oriflame's chief financial officer Gabriel Bennet told AFP.

"We are seeking a dialogue with the authorities but we need to know more about why we are in this situation before we can make any comments."

"We are doing our utmost to solve the situation in Iran and especially for our colleagues being detained," he added.

On Tuesday, Swedish foreign ministry officials held a meeting with Iran's ambassador to Stockholm Rasoul Eslami to discuss Oriflame's situation.

Story continues below…

The case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two sentenced to death by stoning by an Iranian court, was also brought up, a ministry spokeswoman said.

Bennet said last Monday Oriflame believed the closure and arrests may be linked to its business model.

He told AFP then that the firm's business model was to "sell cosmetics and give 40,000 Iranians, mainly women, a possibility to earn money through direct sales."

He dismissed any reference to Oriflame operating a pyramid scheme as "ridiculous."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:59 August 29, 2010 by Rishonim
Had Oriflame invested in Israel they would have had a better ROI but instead they now stand accused of spying. Good luck in proving your innocence in that hell-hole of a country where the natural pastime is to stone women and hang homosexuals.

I am starting a grassroots movements to boycott all things Iranian. Here is my list







Please feel free to add things as you go.
10:43 August 29, 2010 by Iraniboy
@Shalom Rishonim

^Boycott all things Iranian for what an stupid Iranian official claimed where the goverment itself is already not considered legitimate by many Iranians itself? Unless you have something against Iranians to claim this!

You well exposed yourself. You don't have problem with this guy or the government, you have hate against all Iranians and Iranian race!! Your example of Israel was quite nice!! It wasn't long time ago that Israel almost crucified all Swedish officials for one report in Aftonbladet which later turned out to be true!!
10:55 August 29, 2010 by Rishonim
Shalom Iraniboy. I actually have a liken to Iranian chicks. Time after time they keep coming up on the top of my list of most beautiful and sensual women. But check my list of items I would like to boycott and tell me how effective it will be. Particularly the first 6 items I enumerated. Khoda hafez
11:19 August 29, 2010 by Audrian

the countries with the worst human right record in the Middle East include Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Why are you selective? Is it because of the propaganda of the US and its preparation to invade Iran or assisting Israel to invade Iran?

If thse countries are left alone the regims will fall with their own internal motion. The problem with the US is it does not allow this to happen. In the case of Iran it hopes to bring exiles to misrule the country on America's behalf, as it did with Iraq. In the case of Israel and Saudi Arabia the US is preventing the internal motion that could have lead to the downfall of reactionary governments from falling.

The Middle East has enough wars without Iran added.
13:45 August 29, 2010 by Kevin Harris
Iran is absolutely right. Cosmetics companies have long been a breeding ground for espionage. Everyone knows Avon is a front for the CIA and Isa Dora has always had powerful conections with the Pentagon. In Europe, L'Oreal has fronted for MI6, and at least half of SAPO has worked for Mary Kay.

If there was any justice in this world, the Iranians would arrest every make-up lady from here to Washington. Keep up the good work Heydar Moslehi.

You should have a good look at western pet food companies too; they are even worse. They are plotting to put hallucinatotory drugs into pet food, thus causing good Iranian pets to have anti-revolutionary thoughts. The devils.
14:45 August 29, 2010 by Iraniboy
@ Roshim

I can't care less about what you like. If they like you too, good for you!

@Kevin Harris

It's funny how you say Iran and Iranians which means 70 million people and then connect this to the action of a stupid judge. This mentality is one of them problems we have both in Iran, and elsewhere. This kind of seeing the entire nation responsible for what some people in White House or Iranian goverment have done.

As a matter of the fact, western governments don't have a good record in Iran when Iran was attacked by Iraqi chemical weapons and also when a secular governments was overthrown by CIA in a coup only because he was not listening to the US.
15:00 August 29, 2010 by Elias06
Im not from Iran and im not Fan at all of this country but i think that if their government did what they did they should have a good reason, they are not stupid to close a company employing people there.
16:23 August 29, 2010 by Nika-NM
How on earth can a cosmetics firm undermine a state? Are there any female officials working in the Iranian government anyway? Or other male officials who have a penchant for Swedish cosmetics? This sounds absurd since if they'd been detected buying face cream they'd have been sent to gallows without so much as a by your leave. So, I can't see where the node that connects a small group of Oriflame retailers and the national security lies. Can't they give them a break?

And anyway it is a country where you need to be extremely wary of authorities who out of their obtuse philistine fancy may consider you a traitor or a defector on frustratingly unfounded and groundless evidence and bang you up for good, or worse lynch you in the most macabre way imaginable.

Any evidence provided to vindicate these arrests? Any communication whatsoever established with the Swedish Foreign Ministry?

I remember a time when Iran hosted the world's most ingenious music festival, I mean the Shirah Arts Festival in Persepolis where Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis and many more performed. Way to go eh?
18:05 August 29, 2010 by Kevin Harris

Er ... Heydar Moslehi is Iran's 7th minister of Intelligence. He was appointed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 5th August 2009, the same day Ahmadinejad was sworn in as president of Iran for the second time. As an appointed minister of the Iranian government, Haydar Moslehi is perfectly entitled to speak on behalf of, and represent, Iran and its people (yes, all 70 million of them). Whether you, or I, agree with him or not, and whether you voted for his government, or not.
18:19 August 29, 2010 by DAVID T
I think everybody should keep their noses out of Iran - they don't need any outside interference - Israel has always made enemies - Just think - if the west had backed the Arabs instead of Israel we wouldn't have all the trouble in the world today.

If it's against the law to commit adultry in Iran and the penalty is death by stoning then why did she do it? And why should any outside country get involved? It's their law so stay out of it.
18:59 August 29, 2010 by Nika-NM
DAVID T: Talking about obtuseness, here you are the quintessence of it.

And neither Israel nor any other country needs Iran being ghoulish and throwing nuke-backed threats around. Isn't that, to say the least, interference when you threaten a country with eradication?

And what do you mean by the West backing the Arabs? That they should turn a blind eye to Ahmadinejad's nuclear programme and even do so when they've wrought vengeance on Israel as Ahmadinejad and his henchmen have been jumping through hoops to do so?

I think it's perfectly plausible to expect that Ahmadinejad will in the future impose the most despicable and unjust laws on his citizens, so you think (if you actually do at all) that it's nowhere that your Government should draw the line? That it can mount on the nag that's on its last legs and whip it to death while riding towards the abyss?
19:10 August 29, 2010 by wenddiver
Who did Iran blame for it being a pit of psycho Vipers before the US was invented (Only about 224 years)????? I mean as I read history they have been,attacking, looting and sticking their nose in other peoples business at least since Athens and Sparta were the World's super powers. Even Rome tried to keep the lid on the Persian Viper Pit.

I mean Iran being the bad guys, pre-dates the US and even Islam by hundreds if not thousands of years.

I support the right of women to have cosmetics, lingerie and drive convertibles with their hair blowing in the wind (It's a good thing, trust me). Speaking for the Aerican people.
22:05 August 29, 2010 by fridayz

look what a crap you wrote! "Iranians are bad because they had wars with Romans thousand of years ago! " you make a joke of yourself !
22:43 August 29, 2010 by DAVID T

If the west had never backed Israel in the first place we wouldn't have all the problems we have now - Israel and America have been meddaling in the middle east for years

There's a great book : Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire by Chalmers Johnson - read it before you get all girly on me.

Why shouldn't Iran have nukes? Israel has them. I'd prefer no one to have them but I can understand why Iran wants them - those Nazi Isralies have been sh**ting on arabs for years - you reap what you sow
23:07 August 29, 2010 by Iraniboy
@Kevin Harris

The world suffers from the mentality you presented right now. By accepting that a minister or any other person represent millions of people, you can commit collective punishment and even genocides. Most genocides in recent century from WW2 to Bosnia was product of this collective punishment thinking.
00:21 August 30, 2010 by Nika-NM
DAVID T: Keep your books and phantasmagoria for yourself. I very much doubt if a sane person will ever take your recommendations into account after what you wrote in your previous comment. You're as bigoted a person as one can ever aspire to be.

Ahmadinejad doesn't qualify to be in charge of a nuclear country. Iran can have nuclear weapons, but not when it has such a hare-brained idiot at the helm.
07:50 August 30, 2010 by wenddiver
@friday-I stand by the statement, If the US is the reason for Iran trying to conquer the world what was their excuse for the rest of their history of trying to enslave the world?? Were still waiting??? Girl Friday or akhmed or Mohamed's distracting name calling isn't an answer.

I think my contention that this is a country that has always been an enemy of Freedom and Civilization is spot on. Really, they get the murderous Mullahs they deserve, a pit of psycho vipers that deserves a nuclear weapon, so the rest of the world can Nuke them back to Thermopolye.
23:04 August 30, 2010 by amirhosein
Aweful reporting; twisting and turning the simplest events, and linking it to some other irrelevant issue.
13:21 August 31, 2010 by behnam
I as an iranian man , completely condemn this case by iranian government .

but you , the swedish people should not generalize this case to all iranian people and nations . i indeed respect to you the swedish people

you can not beleive that i have a personal weblog that learn your language (swedish) to iranian people that want to learn swedish .

here is my weblog address :


i respect to all you swedish people .
16:57 August 31, 2010 by Vetinari
@behnam, its 'teach your langauge to iranian', not 'learn your language to iranian'.

As for the article, of course cosmetics is a MI6/CIA/SAPO scheme to undermine Iran. If women wore makeup the men would be unable to focus on doing work and they would all be led into sinful thoughts. Remember, a woman is responsible for mens' urges!

Not to mention that if women made money they wouldnt be dependent on their men and would probably demand to be treated like human beings. Oh the horror! Complete undermining of the Ahmadinejahds 'Iranian' system.
17:58 August 31, 2010 by Uncle
David T

YEP, if Israel would not be backed up, there would be no Iran-Iraq war, arabs in Sudan would not murder blacks in hundreds of thousands, arabs in Chad would be really nice to the africans.

Every arab land would not be a dictatorship from which 20 million ran away only to Europe. Iraq would not invade Kuwait, demonstrators in Iran would not be raped in thousands in prisons.

If not 6 million Jews in tiny Israel, arabs would never have wars, they would be flourishing democracies, they would not cut off hands, stone women to death, hang gays. Arab girls would never given away to old people at the age of 9.

If not the evil Israel, arabs would have at least one or two Nobel prizes, their culture would be welcomed in every country (not that arabs would ever emigrate from their amazing countries) and their universities would be at least in the "10 thousand best Unis list".

Without Israel, arabs would never constitute 90% of all terrorists and 100% of them would actually find a job in every country they go to (as a contrast to 30%). Without Israel, arabs would never exterminate and kick out Christians from their lands.

WIthout Israel, arabs would be successful in SOMETHING except emigration flow, rape statistics, clan feuds and the title of "most horrible prisons in the world".

What a luck that the discussion is about Iranians though... These guys are much more successful with their long range missiles, network of shahids and eeeehhh..... carpets. A nation where only the opposition (which I greatly respect) wrote some Nobel winning books and contributed to the world in some way.
18:21 August 31, 2010 by Iraniboy

99.9 of readers and posters in thelocal are not Swedish!! I bet more than 50% or are either from UK or the US. It's good to know.

@Vetinari and others who talk about cosmetics

While in any case I disagree with the judge who ordered this, this company has been identified as doing a pyramid based business which is illegal in Iran not for selling cosmetics. The fool judge didn't know that this is already illegal in Sweden so he just sentenced based on his limited wrong information.


Thanks for a lot of irrelevant information.

Sadly the problem is people like you who try to connect races and religions to political entities. Then those people who find these political entities criminal or guilty of something they may mistakenly target races or religions.
19:01 August 31, 2010 by Uncle

Problem with guys like you is trying to throw slogans where they do not belong.

I wrote "arabs". I meant "arabs". I succeeded in writing "arabs". Everything is about arabs. Not Islam (not in this case anyway). Not political entity of Saudi Arabia, but simply arabs.

Was it so difficult?
20:06 August 31, 2010 by Iraniboy
I saw the ad. It aims for a legitimate demand through a racist path. Cutting budget for immigrants or immigration and spending it for elderlies is an obvious right. I even think total immigration ban is also a right though I may not personally like it. But in this ad all immigrants are portrayed in Burka, woman and hunting for money like aggressive animals. While on the other hand there is only one white woman struggling to reach the money. The racism factor of this ad could be removed by simply adding some whites, non-burka people to the immigrants and some blacks to the elderlies if they really didn't aim for being racism!


You wrote Arabs and that made your comment wrong and provocative. Instead of focusing on responsible persons among those Arabs, you write Arab and you make a whole race responsible for what those political decision makers and a group of ten people who live in the caves of Afghanistan have done. This approach makes it easier for racists and other xphobics to target the whole population regardless of their contribution to the problem. The equivalent version of you in the Middle East can be found. Those stupid guys who attack American people merely for what US government did in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those who want to put sanctions on Iranian people only for what a judge or some other government officials have done and so on.

In a real life we fully understand that we cannot even change our brother's mind in a simple issue if it is against our wills let alone those whom we never meet or influence!! So why we see the people of same religion, same ethnicity

and same country responsible for whatever comes out of their groups?
21:13 August 31, 2010 by Uncle
You see Iraniboy, another problem that you have is replying directly to the posting without comprehending the entire conversation.

You see, almost every muslim on this forum and other forums (including YOU) finds a refuge in blaming Israel, Jews and (sometimes) anglosaxons in all the problems that seem to strangely follow and stick to the countries/ethnicities/ peoples/immigrants etc who are somehow related to Islam.

It is so common, that you start defending Islam automatically when someone just mentions ethnicity.

You and alike you are fast like lightning to take the slowest/ weakest conflict with LEAST victims in the past 50-60 years and turn it into the sole reason of the Persian/pushti/arab general failure.Yes, not every muslim is a terrorist and not every muslim country is hanging people on the street.

However, just by looking at general OUTPUT into economy/culture/inventions /science/art/social advancement/music (you name it) - 1 billion people seem to be regressing even if they are backed by oil billions. One could find these 50 thousand who are responsible for this regression and following PC - blame them but what does it say about the other 999,950,000? EH?

Give me 5 positive and happy articles that tell about something positive that comes out of ENTIRE Iran during last year.

Something that is not related to hanging, nuclear weapons, demonstrations. arrests and political/military alliances? Something that will improve my day-to-day life. Some cool item that could make my computer faster, my microwave cheaper, my internet richer? How about something that would make me rethink our education or view of science, or breakthrough in geology that is useful for everyone? Some nanotechnology perhaps or new batteries for cleaner environment?

I mean, these evil ayatollas do not represent the people right? How the people contribute then to the world, Iraniboy?
21:46 August 31, 2010 by Iraniboy

You should read again my post when you're fully sober (maybe tomorrow) so you'll notice that I didn't mention Israel, let alone blaming it !!

You're again back on your business by prosecuting a group of people rather than blaming those who make the trouble. You actually made my point that who you are. You and your ilk are those who initiate the requirements for racial, religious hatred

As for Iran, I can't write all the positive things here and I don't intend to do so because they are a lot and they are good for those who made them. And the reason why you don't find it, is not my fault, you should ask the editors of Faux News, BBC and CNN. You're probably not an Academic person but if you are, take a look at number of Iranians who go to the university in Iran and outside Iran. Id you are in Sweden you just need to go to any university and see how many post-graduate Iranians study there. In Iran the Nanotechnology, stem cell research and chemical science are most prominent and you can see a huge increase in number of journals and articles in recent decades.
23:37 August 31, 2010 by Uncle
You see, Iraniboy... here we go again. Of course you did not mention Israel.

David T did. I answered to him and you came in and started moaning about racism...

Now, let's read again what I wrote: "almost every muslim on this forum and other forums (including YOU) finds a refuge in blaming Israel"

"Other forums"... mmmm... was so difficult to get that too?

As a sober muslim, you do not demonstrate wit at all.

Now, in regards to Iranians outside Iran. These are (often) creme de la creme of Persia and they ran away from the blessing of Islam. These iranians are educated by the west, write opposition books in English or French and hardly represent whatever is going on in Iran now. Read about Nobel prizes of iranians and you will see how Islam degraded this nation IN Iran.

Also... you see, I am a white dumb racist redneck , who cannot read anything, but the brainwashing CNN and Fox News...

Please, oh delightful beacon of wisdom and the savior of us, the dark ones, could you be so kind as to enlighten me, the unworthy on how Iran and Iranian universities (which according to the following rating are ranked: University of Tehran - 899 in the world, Tehran University of Medical Sciences - 1182 in the world and Ferdowsi University of Mashhad - 1499 in the world etc. Find webometrics.info on the web) made my life better, easier and faster?

What is it that I would not be able to do or is there someone who would not be saved without a purely Iranian (within Iran) breakthrough?

Could you please reconfirm with Al Alam, Jamejam Daily or Hamshahri in regards to the amazing researches that have made some item for every hospital/kitchen/car for all of us and how this country actually progresses in so many fields which are not only rocket making and gallows construction?
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