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France

Over €600,000 found at comedian Dieudonné's home

Video by Charlotte HAWKINS , FRANCE 2

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2014-01-30

Police investigating Dieudonné M’bala M’bala’s failure to pay fines related to his anti-Semitism convictions seized large amounts of euros and dollars in co-ordinated raids on his home and theatre on January 28, 2014.

Sources close to the case told news agencies that police officers found more than 600,000 euros and 15,000 dollars in cash at M’bala M’bala’s home south-west of Paris. Other police officers searched the city-centre theatre where he appears under his stage name Dieudonné.

His lawyer acknowledged the cash seizure but declined to confirm the amounts. “It is the income from the theatre’s box office. It is all transparent," Jacques Verdier told AFP. He added that ticket receipts proved the origin of the cash was legal.

Verdier slammed investigators for leaking the information to the media. “This is a new attempt to smear Dieudonné, including by using financial means,” he told the I>télé news channel.

Dieudonné also failed to pay fines totalling 65,000 euros related to earlier convictions for anti-Semitic speech. He is now under investigation for multiple financial offences, including illegal attempts to raise money from the public to pay fines.

'Organised insolvency'

Investigators suspect him of having “organised his insolvency” by transferring his assets to his girlfriend and sending around 400,000 euros to his native Cameroon.

A bailiff sent to deliver a summons to his home on January 20 reported being shot at with rubber bullets. Dieudonné was briefly detained over the incident but was later released without charge.

The Canard Enchaîné newspaper reported on Wednesday that the Finance Ministry had sent a chauffeured car to drive the bailiff the 200km to the comedian’s home – an indication of the seriousness of the case in the eyes of the French authorities.

Dieudonné supports Nicolas Anelka’s “quenelle”

Dieudonné had to expunge jokes targeting Jews from his latest show after local authorities in several French towns banned him from performing under pressure from the government.

Yet in a rare interview with the British channel Sky News last week, he said he would continue to use the controversial “quenelle” gesture, which his critics say is derived from the Nazi salute. Dieudonné insisted the arm-extending posture was “anti-establishment” and had no racist meaning.

His supporters have been involved in a string of lawsuits for mimicking the gesture in public places. In the highest-profile case, French footballer Nicolas Anelka is facing disciplinary action by the English Football Association for performing a “quenelle” while playing for West Bromwich Albion in December.

Dieudonné told Sky News that he regarded Anelka as “a prince” for performing such a “noble” act.

Date created : 2014-01-30

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