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Binladin scents sweet smell of success

"Yeslam" will retail for about €60 a bottle swissinfo.ch

Two years after his “Binladin” fashion label fell foul of the Swiss authorities, a millionaire half-brother of Osama bin Laden is aiming to cause less of a stink – with a perfume.

This content was published on October 15, 2004 - 12:48

Geneva-based Yeslam Binladin hopes that by steering clear of the family name, he can avoid the controversy that sunk his last commercial venture.

On Monday the Swiss citizen is due to launch his “Yeslam” fragrance in the French resort of Cannes.

“A perfume is personal, and as it’s my own creation I have opted to use my first name and not my family name,” he told swissinfo.

This is probably a wise move, since the Swiss authorities took rather a dim view of his earlier attempt to launch a “Binladin” clothing line.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property promptly revoked his trademark licence, arguing that the brand name was a “morally offensive” reminder of the events of September 11, 2001.

Childhood dream

The financier says he has been working for a year on his “childhood dream”, which has been produced in Paris.

He says he has invested around €500,000 ($620,000) in developing the perfume, which will go on sale at around €60 a bottle.

The fragrance for women is reported to smell of narcissus and jasmine, while the men’s version is said to be more spicy.

“I am delegating a great deal, but I check each stage of the process. I tested around 30 fragrances before making a final choice,” said Binladin.

Up until now, the Saudi-born businessman has concentrated his resources on the cinema. Via his Almaz Film Productions, he has co-produced documentaries on Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini and Lars von Trier’s “Dogville”.

Osama bin Laden

While Binladin has repeatedly denied any contact with his half-brother, Osama bin Laden, this has not stopped him attracting unwelcome attention on a number of occasions.

In March 2003 Swiss police raided eight firms with links to Yeslam Binladin following a request for judicial assistance by the French authorities investigating alleged money laundering. Binladin has never been charged.

He was also involved in a lengthy legal wrangle to block publication of a book by two French authors, entitled “Bin Laden, The Forbidden Truth”.

Binladin, who has lived in Switzerland since 1985, claimed the book implied that he and his company SICO (Saudi Investment Company) had bankrolled al-Qaeda and was therefore defamatory.

According to a list of the 300 richest Swiss in 2002, Binladin had a personal fortune of somewhere between SFr100 and SFr200 million.

But last year he dropped out of the rankings, which require a minimum fortune of SFr100 million for entry.

swissinfo, Luigino Canal

In brief

Yeslam and Osama are among 54 children of the late Saudi construction magnate Mohammed bin Laden and his 22 wives.

Binladin has publicly condemned his half-brother for his actions.

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