French police find more than half a million pounds in cash at the home of controversial 'quenelle' comedian Dieudonné

Dieudonné is currently under investigation for fraudulent bankruptcy

In Paris

A police raid has uncovered around €650,000 in cash in the home of the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné, it emerged yesterday.

The find could mean serious legal trouble for Dieudonné. It could also infuriate some of his devoted fans.

The comedian, who created the controversial “quenelle” arm gesture, is under investigation for fraudulently organising his own bankruptcy. Last year, he appealed on the internet for fans to send money to help settle his debts to the government – including €65,000 for seven convictions for inciting hatred against Jews.

Earlier this month the French authorities banned Dieudonné’s stand-up comedy act, Le Mur [the wall]. He is now touring France with an amended version of this show.

At the time of the ban, the Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, said that the government also planned to “get at Dieudonné, through his wallet, like Al Capone”. This was a reference to the imprisonment of the Chicago gangster for “tax evasion” in 1931 after the US authorities had failed to convict him for his criminal activities.

A series of simultaneous police raids was made on Monday on Dieudonné’s theatre in eastern Paris and several homes, offices and studios, including a large country house in Eure-et-Loir, 60 miles west of the capital. Judicial authorities yesterday confirmed a report by RTL radio that the investigators had seized bank notes worth €600,000 and $15,000 in Dieudonné’s house in Eure-et-Loir. Other judicial sources said that the total value of the find was over €650,000.

Police search the house belonging to French controversial comic Dieudonné Míbala Míbala (AP) Police search the house belonging to French controversial comic Dieudonné Míbala Míbala (AP)
Although holding such a large amount of cash is not illegal in itself, it poses several awkward questions for the 47-year-old comedian. He is under investigation for alleged money-laundering and fraudulently engineering his own bankruptcy to avoid paying taxes and fines.

Dieudonné’s lawyer, Jacques Verdier, confirmed that a large amount of cash had been found but described the figures of €650,000 as “exaggerated”. He said that the money came from the “box-office” at the comedian’s shows and tickets existed to prove it.

“It is all perfectly above board,” he said.

Dieudonné’s business – including stage-shows and videos – had a turnover of €1.8m and a profit of €230,000 in 2012. Last year he made an appeal for cash on the internet to help pay the fines and €900,000 in back taxes.

“The government is after my skin,” he said. “My house is going to be put up for auction… If I can lay my hands on €550,000, I can remain the owner of my house. If enough of you respond, we can raise this sum…”

The house was later sold to Dieudonné’s production company.

French authorities have also traced unexplained transfers by the comedian to Cameroon – his father’s native country – of €400,000, including €230,000 last year alone. The fines and damages imposed on Dieudonné for seven convictions for inciting hatred against Jews or mocking the Holocaust have still not been paid.

Last week two court bailiffs called at Dieudonné’s home in Eure-et-Loir to serve notices of non-payment of these fines. One of the bailiffs complained that a rubber bullet was fired at him from behind a gate by an unseen assailant. Dieudonné was arrested for questioning and interrogated for six hours and then released.

The comedian denied that he was at the house at the time. He also denies all the other allegations. His lawyers announced earlier this month that he had settled his tax dispute with the government.

Dieudonné M’bala M’bala rejects accusations that he is anti-Semitic. He says that his “jokes” about Jews and the Holocaust – often obscene – are an assertion of his right to freedom of speech. The Jewish lobby in France, he says, has closed down all right to criticise Jews.

In 2006 he told The Independent that “Zionists” had used the Holocaust to stamp out recognition of all other suffering in a “world cursed by the power of money”.

Once part of a successful double-act with a Jewish comedian, Dieudonné severed himself from the entertainment mainstream in France about 10 years ago. Dieudonné was scarcely known outside France before the Premiership footballer, Nicolas Anelka, performed the comedian’s trade-mark, obscene gesture “la quenelle” after scoring a goal earlier this month.

Critics say that the arm gesture has become an anti-Semitic symbol. Dieudonné and Anelka insist that it is merely “anti-system” or anti-establishment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower