AFP – An angry crowd hurled missiles and tipped over a vehicle near the Eiffel Tower in Paris Saturday after a company promised a massive cash giveaway but then failed to deliver, police said.
Trouble flared among the crowd of around 7,000 people when they realised the Internet company Rentabiliweb was not going ahead with the publicity stunt to give away some 40,000 euros (60,000 dollars).
Police arrested around 10 people and nine were remanded in custody as anger erupted in the shadow of the Paris landmark.
Metal barriers were erected in an attempt to contain the crowd but people clambered over them. Angry youths also hurled missiles at police.
The police said: “Following traffic problems in the Champ de Mars (park near the Eiffel Tower) area and large crowd movements, the police asked the organiser not to go ahead with distributing the money.”
Rentabiliweb “lamented the excesses which occurred” and added precautions been taken in an effort to ensure the event ran smoothly.
Jean-Baptiste Descroix-Vernier, chairman of the company which also runs the website Mailorama.fr, said the money intended for distribution would instead be given to charity.
The French interior ministry said it would lodge a formal complaint over the botched publicity stunt.
The police said they had told the event organiser that giving out money as a means of advertising was banned and stressed it could be a risk to public order.
But the Paris force added that it did not have the legal powers to stop people who wanted the money taking to the streets.
Gerard, a Parisian in his 40s who had turned up to get his hands on the free cash, wondered “if it wasn’t actually a hoax.”
“What is certain, is that they have got a lot of advertising from it,” he added.
Rentabiliweb announced with great fanfare last month that it planned to give away the huge sum in 5,000 pouches containing a bank note of between five and 500 euros each.