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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Project Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer - Java

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning digital publishing solution...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: NON-CONTENTIOUS (0-2 PQE) - A rare opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Financial Analyst

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Financial Analyst is required to join...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness