Controversial French comic probed for money laundering

Controversial French comic Dieudonne, who owes tax authorities more than 800,000 euros, is being investigated for suspected money laundering, the newspaper Le Monde said on its website Tuesday.

Public prosecutors in the city of Chartres, southwest of Paris, launched the probe in February last year after suspicions that he was sending money to Cameroon, his father's homeland, through third parties close to him.

The investigation covers money laundering, the "organisation of insolvency" and tax fraud, the paper said.

The French finance ministry's anti-money laundering department Tracfin would not confirm or deny the report which came as President Francois Hollande backed attempts to ban shows by the comedian amid furore over his sketches widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

Hollande urged local officials to apply an interior ministry circular authorising city mayors or police chiefs to cancel any performances on public order grounds.

The investigation is centred in Chartres as companies managed by Dieudonne's wife Noelle Montagne are headquartered in the area, Le Monde said.

Investigators "have found what Dieudonne does with his money: he sends it to Cameroon", said Le Monde's online version.

It said the comic "owes tax authorities 887,135 euros ($1.2 million) [and] has sent more than 400,000 euros to Cameroon since 2009, of which 230,000 in 2013 alone", but did not give a source.

According to a list of importers on the Cameroonian trade ministry's website a local business, Ewondo Corp Sarl, was registered in January last year as a letterbox company, with only Dieudonne's full name given.

Mbala Mbala is a name common with central Cameroon's Ewondo people from where his father stems.