• 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
Nadal calls time as Federer advances
Nadal: calling it quits for the season after upset loss. Photo: AFP

Nadal calls time as Federer advances

Teenage wildcard Borna Coric stunned Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Basel on Friday, a defeat which marked the end of the Spaniard's season. Home favourite Roger Federer meanwhile claimed a spot in the semifinals. READ  

Glacier 3000 opens new mountaintop bridge
The new bridge connects Glacier 3000 with Scex Rouge. Photo: Peak Walk by Tissot

Glacier 3000 opens new mountaintop bridge

The new ‘Peak Walk’ at Glacier 3000, the world’s first suspension bridge to connect two mountain peaks, was inaugurated on Friday. READ  

Snake smugglers caught by Swiss border guards
Two boa constrictors were found in Basel. Photo: Anup Shah

Snake smugglers caught by Swiss border guards

Swiss border guards discovered four snakes during the course of two separate controls this week, federal customs authorities said on Friday. READ  

Report: Switzerland ideal for Mars simulator
UNIL's report said Switzerland would be ideal for a Mars project. Photo: UNIL

Report: Switzerland ideal for Mars simulator

Switzerland could play a vital part in the mission to Mars, according to a report by the University of Lausanne (UNIL) which concludes that Romandie is the perfect place to test conditions faced by humans in a journey to the red planet. READ  

Basel private bank raided in German tax probe
Safra Sarasin is based in Basel. Photo: Michelle Kinsey Bruns

Basel private bank raided in German tax probe

Police in Switzerland have raided the offices of the private bank Safra Sarasin as part of a probe by German authorities into alleged tax fraud, Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported on Friday. READ  

Swiss banker arrested over Hoeness tax fraud
Hoeness was jailed for tax evasion to the tune of 28.5 million euros. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Pool/AFP

Swiss banker arrested over Hoeness tax fraud

Polish authorities said Thursday they had arrested a Swiss banker wanted by Germany on suspicion of tax fraud that a report said may involve the jailed former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness. READ  

Federer reaches quarters in hometown event
Federer celebrates another win in Basel. Photo: AFP/Fabrice Coffini

Federer reaches quarters in hometown event

Roger Federer shrugged off dropping the first set against journeyman Denis Istomin on Thursday before hitting back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and reach the Swiss Indoors quarterfinals. READ  

Hitler coffee cream pot company faces closure
Hitler and Mussolini featured on the creamer lids. Photo: SRF

Hitler coffee cream pot company faces closure

The company that designed the coffee cream pot lids featuring images of Hitler and Mussolini is facing bankruptcy after Swiss supermarket chain Migros said it planned to terminate its contract with the Bern-based outfit. READ  

Body of Czech climber found after 40 years
The body was found near Mount Titlis. Photo: Caroline Bishop/The Local

Body of Czech climber found after 40 years

The body of a Czech hiker who disappeared 40 years ago after an avalanche in Switzerland has been found on a glacier in the Bernese alps, Bern cantonal police reported on Thursday. READ  

Doctor: Schumacher needs 'years to recover'
Schumacher suffered severe head injuries in a ski accident in December. Photo: AFP

Doctor: Schumacher needs 'years to recover'

A French doctor treating stricken former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher said on Thursday that the German ace was making progress, but will need years to recover. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Red faces at Migros over Hitler and Mussolini coffee cream pots
National
Majority of Swiss back proposed new immigration curbs: poll
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
National
Sputtering eurozone drags down Swiss economic growth forecast
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
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

2,222
jobs available