Red Bull drink cans are seen in a supermarket in Vienna.
The beverage and sports marketing giant Red Bull said it
was the target of a blackmail attempt by someone who had
threatened to contaminate its energy drinks.
The extortionists had threatened to taint beverage cans with
faecal matter if they were not paid off. Checks at stores
where they said they had put contaminated drinks had found
nothing, Austria-based Red Bull said.
"Someone has been trying to blackmail Red Bull for weeks,"
Red Bull said in a statement, adding it went public with the
information in order to neutralise the blackmailers'
"We are cooperating closely with police and share the opinion
that we are close to the perpetrators and they will be
found," it said, adding that it would make no further comment
while the investigation continued.
Police in Salzburg, where Red Bull is based, had no comment.
"We know the facts - the text that Red Bull has published -
and cannot say anything more," a police spokesman said.
Salzburg prosecutors have been investigating the threat since
the beginning of March, spokesman Marcus Neher said. "So far,
we have not found a single case of contamination," he said.
He said their investigations were focused on Austria but they
were also working with prosecutors in Germany. He declined to
comment on Red Bull's statement that they believed they were
close to finding the perpetrators.
Red Bull's co-founder, Dieter Mateschitz, has a net worth of
$7.1 billion, making him Austria's richest person and number
162 in the world, according to Forbes magazine. Red Bull
sales grew 12 percent in 2011 to $5.6 billion, according to
The private company, whose products are especially popular
with young people, is known for its elaborate marketing and
association with extreme sports.
It scored a coup last year when it sponsored daredevil Felix
Baumgartner's record-breaking skydiver from the edge of
space. Its world champion Formula 1 motor racing team opens
the season on Sunday.