On air
  • RFI English Live
  • RFI French Live

Tax Fraud Anti-Semitism Court Trial

Issued on • Modified

French comedian Dieudonné sentenced for fraud and money laundering

French comedian Dieudonne gestures as he leaves his trial on February 4, 2015, at the courthouse in Paris. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA

French comedian Dieudonné courts controversy again after he was sentenced in Paris on Friday to two years in jail for tax fraud and money laundering. The sentence relates to more than one million euros of undeclared earnings.

Dieudonné, a convicted anti-Semite, was also slapped with a 200,000-euro fine. Under the court arrangement, he will likely do community service instead of jail time.

A highly popular comedian, especially in the low-income areas, he was found guilty in the past of condoning terrorism; in 2014, Prime Minister Manuel Valls once tried to shut down his performances, arguing they were a threat to public safety.

Police found 657,000 euros in cash in his home. Legally known as Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala, he and others sent 565,000 euros to Cameroon, where he has family members.

Dieudonné’s anti-Semitism acts include bringing a Holocaust denier on stage during a performance, decrying the “Zionist lobby” that rules the world. He made popular a hand gesture called the “quenelle”, which looks strikingly like a Nazi salute.

He has claimed his freedom of speech has been trampled upon, however.