French royal family's last in line in police custody

9th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) - A scion of France's last royal family was in police custody Wednesday as part of a criminal probe into a suspected smear campaign against a pharmaceutical company, a source close to the investigation said.

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) - A scion of France's last royal family was in police custody Wednesday as part of a criminal probe into a suspected smear campaign against a pharmaceutical company, a source close to the investigation said.

Charles-Philippe d'Orleans, the great-great-great-great-grandson of the last king of France, Louis-Philippe, was detained Tuesday in Paris and was being questioned over alleged fraud to do with the pharmaceutical company, a French-based enterprise called Thea, the source told AFP.

Orleans, 33, was being interrogated in his capacity as owner of an economic consulting firm.

Three other men were also being held and questioned: a senior executive in Orleans's firm, the head of development of a pharmaceutical company based in Monaco, and the chief executive of another consulting firm that part-owns the Monaco company.

A section of the French police specialising in technology crime was handling the case.

According to the source, the investigation into the matter began March 10 when the head of Thea, Henri Chibret, complained to police that his company was the object of a smear campaign designed to bring it to its knees.

He alleged that bottle containing eye drops Thea invented was the subject of a faked scientific study and two e-mails sent to pharmacies and health authorities which called its safety into question.

The bottle was designed with a special filter that increased the shelf-life of the liquid inside four-fold compared to existing containers. But the e-mails and scientific "study" sent to hospitals and eye-doctors challenged the bottle's reliability.

"It looks like there was deliberate manipulation," the source close to the investigation said.

Thea, founded in 1994 and based in the central French city of Clermont-Ferrand, employs 338 people across Europe and had turnover last year of EUR 108 million.

Orleans started his career working for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Rwanda in 1994.

He then went on to serve in the military for eight years before founding his Paris-based consulting firm. He has also written a novel and this year appeared on the French version of the reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!"

Orleans claims a "courtesy" aristocratic title as duke despite challenges from descendants of a rival former royal dynasty.

His great-great-great-great grandfather, Louis-Philippe, reigned from 1830-1848 as the last king in the monarchy restored after the abdication of Napoleon.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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