L’Hebdo magazine and Tages Anzeiger reported this week that Alain Duménil, who owns 51 percent of the Lausanne-based French-language business daily, is the subject of a tax investigation approved by Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf.
Dumémil, who denies the allegations, is a French-Swiss businessman based in the mountain resort town of Crans-Montana in the canton of Valais.
According to the allegations, he failed to declare dividends paid by Acanthe Développement, a Paris-based real estate company, of which he is the majority owner.
Federal, cantonal and municipal governments failed to receive tax revenues of more than 20 million francs, according to the reports.
Duménil’s home has been searched and federal authorities have ordered the freezing of real estate assets and bank accounts belonging to the multi-millionaire.
The federal criminal court, based in Bellinzona in the canton of Ticino, rejected the businessman’s bid for diplomatic immunity connected to his position as a representative to the Republic of Madagascar’s permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva, the ATS news agency said.
According to court documents Duménil is accused of failing to declare all his taxable income over a period that extended from 2003 to 2011.
Based in Switzerland since 1987, he was ranked among the 300 wealthiest people in Switzerland by Bilan magazine in 2012 with a fortune estimated between 100- and 200-million francs.
He subsequently dropped off the list.
In 2008, Duménil he acquired L’Agefi and currently shares ownership with another businessman, Antoine Hubert, founder of the Genolier health clinic group, ATS said.
Duménil has not responded publicly to the revelations.
But François Schaller, editor-in-chief of L’Agefi said in an editorial appearing online on Thursday that he should benefit from the presumption of innocence.
Schaller added that the case does not affect the operations of the newspaper or its goals and objectives.
Also the case would not change the “complete editorial independence” of the newspaper and its magazines, he said.
Schaller said the owners of the newspaper did not interfere with its editorial content.