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France

French comedian Dieudonné to face trial for tax evasion

media Dieudonné in 2011 Photos AFP

Controversial French performer Dieudonné is to face trial for tax evasion, money laundering and fake bankruptcy. He is accused of concealing over a million euros of revenue from his shows, which have earned him several convictions for anti-Semitism and other offences.

On 30 November an examining magistrate ordered that Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, who appears on stage under his first name alone, face trial for tax evasion, money laundering connected to tax evasion and fraudulent declaration of bankruptcy, a source close to the investigation told the AFP news agency on Thursday.

The comedian and his partner, Noémie Montagne, will also be charged with misuse of company assets in relation to their company Productions de la Plume, which will face charges along with its management of sales tax fraud, the source said.

Thousands of euros found in envelopes

Investigators are reported to have found 1.45 million euros hidden from tax authorities between 2009 and 2014, at a time when Dieudonné claimed to be insolvent.

In a raid of the couple's home in 2014 police seized envelopes stuffed with notes ranging from five to 500 euros to a total value of 657,220 euros.

Investigating judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke believes the performer has concealed large sums in proceeds from his shows for many years, according to the source.

The house itself had been sold to cover some of Dieudonné's debts, although the buyer was in fact the production company.

In the period concerned he declared a low income to the tax authorities and none at all in 2011, while reportedly smuggling 670,000 euros out of the country, notably to his father's country of origin, Cameroon.

Fines unpaid

The current case against Dieudonné started because he was suspected of a false declaration of bankruptcy to avoid paying some 65,000 euros in fines awarded in various court cases, principally over accusations of incitement to racial hatred, Holocaust denial and promoting terrorism.

After a series of scandals, several French towns banned his shows and in 2014 then prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the cabinet that the performer would be brought to justice "via his wallet ... in the same as the Americans caught Al Capone", according to the Canard Enchaîné weekly.

"It's high time that the true face of the convict M'Bala M'Bala was exposed to the light of day," commented David-Olivier Kaminski, the lawyer of anti-racist group Licra who sued the comic in 2012 for non-payment of damages owed after several cases of libel and incitement to race hate.

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