• Switzerland edition
 
Winemaker’s tax troubles shake canton of Valais
Photo: YouTube/Sion Tourisme

Winemaker’s tax troubles shake canton of Valais

Published: 13 Dec 2013 11:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Dec 2013 11:55 GMT+01:00

Dominique Giroud is a pillar of the canton’s wine-making industry with a successful track record for the past 15 years whose company has sponsored the Sion football club, as well other sports clubs and events such as the Patrouille des Glaciers, the celebrated ski mountaineering race.

But several weeks ago Le Temps newspaper revealed that Giroud was under investigation by tax authorities in Bern for failing to disclose millions of francs in profits from 2001 to 2009.

In September, authorities froze 11.5 million francs’ worth of assets belonging to Giroud’s wife and his company Giroud Vins SA.

The information was a well-guarded secret until it was leaked to Le Temps.

Giroud told Le Nouvelliste, a newspaper in Valais, last week that he was in the process of settling the tax dispute and the “different points of view” with federal authorities.

The disclosure of the tax fraud investigation was greeted with incredulity in the Valais wine industry, especially given the size of the profits involved, Le Matin newspaper reported.

“It’s not through wine that you can make such profits, even with a big cellar,” an unidentified member of the Valais parliament is quoted as saying.

Other representatives of the canton’s wine industry — the biggest in Switzerland — are loath to comment on the issue publicly.

But the scandal has taken on a political dimension given Giroud’s connections with members of the Valais cantonal government.

He is reputedly a friend of Oskar Freysinger, a cantonal cabinet minister and federal MP.

Freysinger, a member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, has earned a certain notoriety for his views against Muslim immigration and in favour of Switzerland’s ban on minarets.

In 2011, he welcomed Dutch right-wing extremist Geert Wilders in Giroud’s wine cellar after a local municipality refused to allow him in the village hall.

Freysinger described the news of the tax probe as an “orchestrated leak” and an effort to “politically destabilize” the canton.

He said that opponents were going after Giroud in a bid to weaken Maurice Tornay, Valais’s minister of finances and a member of the Christian Democrat party.

Before becoming a minister, Tornay headed a financial services firm that audited the winemaker’s company, although the politician has denied any involvement in the case.

If Giroud is found guilty of dodging taxes at the federal, cantonal and municipal level, he could face hefty penalties of more than 20 million francs, according to Le Matin.

But Freysinger said the case should not be overstated.

“There is litigation on the taxes as can happen every day in Switzerland,” he told Le Matin.

“There is a procedure under way and I await to see the real result — I am waiting for proof.”

Le Nouvelliste, the local daily whose publisher Jean-Marie Fournier is reportedly close to Giroud, has supported the idea that the news about his tax troubles was intentionally leaked.

In an editorial, the paper identified Brigitte Hauser, a high civil servant and an associate of federal Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, as the source for the leak.

Contacted by Le Matin, Hauser denied this was the case, adding she was shocked by the accusation and is considering legal action. 

For more about Giroud's wine company check this YouTube video :

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Fourteen-year-old Swiss whiz kid enrols at uni
Bastian Eichenberger: speaks nine languages. Photo: Sandra Meyndt/University of Freiburg

Fourteen-year-old Swiss whiz kid enrols at uni

A Swiss teenager has become the youngest university student in Germany, according to media reports in Switzerland. READ  

Electrolux to close Swiss manufacturing plant
Photo: AFP

Electrolux to close Swiss manufacturing plant

Swedish home appliances maker Electrolux plans to close its production plant in Schwanden in the canton of Glarus, eliminating 120 full-time jobs, partly because of tighter rules about Swiss-made products. READ  

Three kids hospitalized in crossing car crash
Photo: Zurich cantonal police

Three kids hospitalized in crossing car crash

Three children are in hospital, including a six-month-old infant, after a car collided with a family walking across a pedestrian crossing in Oberglatt, a municipality near the Zurich airport, police said on Monday. READ  

Quarter of workers 'stressed out': survey
Photo: AFP

Quarter of workers 'stressed out': survey

More than 40 percent of employed people in Switzerland believe they suffer from overwork, while a quarter of them say they are stressed out, according to a new survey. READ  

Canadian Ebola vaccine headed for Geneva
Geneva's university hospital. Photo: Julien Gregario

Canadian Ebola vaccine headed for Geneva

Canada will start sending more than 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to Switzerland this week as part of the global fight against the deadly virus, a Geneva hospital says. READ  

Swiss mountains claim four weekend victims
View of Fluebrig mountain where the passenger of a tandem paragliding pair died in a crash. Photo: Roland zh/Wikimedia Commons

Swiss mountains claim four weekend victims

Swiss mountain accidents claimed the lives of four men at the weekend, including a 61-year-old man who died from injuries suffered while flying as a passenger with a paraglider in the canton of Schwyz. READ  

Federer and Nadal seek different goals in Basel
Federer at last year's Swiss Indoors. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Federer and Nadal seek different goals in Basel

Home hero Roger Federer and ailing Rafael Nadal will be working to completely different agendas when the Swiss Indoors begins on Monday. READ  

Neckwear exhibit set to tie Swiss into knots
A wall of album covers showing singers wearing ties or bow ties is photographed during the exhibition "The Tie: men fashion power" at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Neckwear exhibit set to tie Swiss into knots

From a symbol of power to a fashion statement, ties in all their guises are on show at a new exhibition dedicated to the neckwear at the Swiss National Museum. READ  

Survey: Swiss motor boat theft on the rise
Lake Constance has experienced 82 thefts this year so far. Photo: Stephane Batigne

Survey: Swiss motor boat theft on the rise

Motor boat theft is a growing problem in Switzerland according to a new survey which puts the number of boats stolen this year to date as more than in the whole of last year. READ  

Voodoo chicken killing ruffles Geneva feathers
The chicken was decapitated and disembowelled. Photo: Karen Jackson

Voodoo chicken killing ruffles Geneva feathers

Residents of Geneva’s Petit-Saconnex district are petitioning for surveillance cameras in their local park after finding a dead chicken that appeared to have been killed in a voodoo-style sacrificial ceremony. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
National
Saint Maurice abbey in Valais celebrates 1,500 years of history
National
Streaming movie video service Netflix arrives in Switzerland
National
Professional Chilean base jumper dives to death in Swiss Alps
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
National
Villagers in Graubünden valley reject hydro plant to protect vultures
Business & Money
Court rules against appellation for absinthe from Neuchâtel valley
National
Two hundred passengers rescued after landslide derails Swiss train
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,268
jobs available