European Grouping of Marketing Professionals
The European Grouping of Marketing Professionals, widely named, GEPM, then renamed CEDIPAC SA, was a multi-level marketing company founded in U.S. in 1988 by Jean Godzich, a former member of Amway. In France, its headquarters were based in Fleury-sur-Andelle, Eure, and it employed approximately 360 employees and 50,000 distributors in France. In 1995, its activities ended and it changed its name after many complaints by former members who presented it as a cult, as well as two parliamentary reports.
Doctrine and organization
The GEPM, also called "the Business" by his followers, proposed a series of various daily life products, and seminars, rallies, travels, etc., and asked to recruit new members by canvassing, promising the wealth to the followers. The doctrine developed by Godzich mixed marketing techniques, biblical verses and esotericism. Several status could be reached by members, including 'ambassador', 'excellency' and 'diamond'.
According to some journalistic articles, the GEPM was in connexion with the First Assembly of God Church, deemed by them as a far-right evangelist church, directed in the U.S. by Godzich's brother, and many distributors of the GEPM were baptized in this church. In addition, excessive demands for money and the huge time devoted to the GEPM, that was deemed as harmful to member's family life, led to numerous complaints to the Institut national de la Consommation and to anti-cult associations (UNADFI, CCMM, Secticide).
In 1995, the premises of French anti-cult association UNADFI were invaded by members of the GEPM to protest against the accusations of cultic deviances and asked the then president, Janine Tavernier, to explain why the group was criticized. The police was forced to intervene. The group was placed in receivership in 1995.
The group was classified as cult in the 1995 and 1999 reports established by the Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France (under the name CEDIPAC SA, its new name then, then under Federation of the networks agreement [Fédération d'agrément des réseaux or FAR], a group founded by former members). It was labelled as "evangelical" cult. Sociologist Bruno Étienne criticized this classification, as the group's activity mainly consists in multi-level marketing. The CCMM, as well as Jean Vernette, then national secretary of French episcopate for the study of cults and new religious movements, also considered this qualification as irrelevant.
On June, the 22nd 1997, at the Zénith, Paris, crowded by more than 6000 distributors, the Federation of networks agreement (Fédération d'agrément des réseaux or FAR), created by former GEPM members (Jean-Claude Martini, Gilbert Husson, André-Pierre Alexandre, Thierry Vavasseur,...) officially launches the new "Direct Distribution Franchise" AKEO which will be taken over by the new company NOAO created by André-Pierre Alexandre in 2001.
In 2007, Godzich was condemned of three-year prison and 500,000-euro fine, for abuse of social goods.
- Véronique Bau (27 June 2000). ""L'aura" de Jean Godzich, patron charismatique et visionnaire !". Paris Normandie (in French). Prevensectes. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
- Bruno Fouchereau, La mafia des sectes – Du rapport de l'Assemblée Nationale aux implications des multinationales, Filipacchi editions, 1996, pp. 24–28 (ISBN 2-85018-648-1)
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- "L'honneur retrouvé de l'ingénieur". Le Point (in French). 24 January 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
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- Jean Vernette, Claire Moncelon (1995). "Groupement Européen des Professionnels du Marketing (GEPM)". Dictionnaire des groupes religieux aujourd'hui (religions – églises – sectes – nouveaux mouvements religieux – mouvements spiritualistes) (in French). SOS Dérives sectaires. Retrieved 25 August 2009.
- "FAR, les secrets d'une pyramide". Le Point (in French). 26 January 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
- "Alors, le MLM, arnaque ou pas arnaque" (in French). 21 February 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2016.
- "Abus de biens sociaux : trois ans de prison pour un patron américain". AFP (in French). Prevensectes. 25 January 2007. Retrieved 28 August 2009.