Antivirus software firm Panda Software has been linked to the Church of Scientology. A French national newspaper has reported its founder has made donations to an organisation closely linked to the cult.
Mikel Urizarbarrena is said to have made donations to the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), an US-based association of 2,500 companies directed or controlled by Scientologists.
According to French national newspaper L'Express, Urizarbarrena is a member of the Church whose first donation of $40,000 in 1996 has been repeated regularly since. Panda's French head is also a member of the sect, according to the paper, which reported that the issue has caused a wave of controversy among French organisations who fear they have bought security software that might be spyware.
Panda, which is the world's fourth largest supplier of antivirus software, is used by the French Ministry of the Interior and a variety of large firms including Naf Naf and JC Decaux. The French are scandalised by the idea that an estimated six to nine per cent of the revenues paid by its police ministry for Panda's Global Virus Insurance might have gone into the coffers of the Church, which was founded by L Ron Hubbard.
We tried to speak to Panda, whose headquarters are based in Spain, about these issues throughout this week but it hasn't returned any of our calls.
The issue with Panda is similar to what happened last year when the German government forced Microsoft to implement a way to remove or disable Diskeeper in Windows 2000, which was developed by Executive Software, whose chief executive was a Scientologist.
We quite understand the reasons for the Germans concern. Paying licensing revenues to sinister organisation headed by messianic figures with designs on taking over the world is obviously something that needs to be avoided at all costs. We're not too keen on money going to the Scientologists either.