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Swiss wine producer faces court on spying charge

Swiss wine producer Dominique Giroud is due to appear in court on spying charges in the next few days, alongside a computer hacker, a private detective and a fourth person belonging to Switzerland's secret service.

Giroud sponsored several sports clubs, including Geneve-Servette Hockey Club. Image credit: Giroud Vins

and three others were arrested in the Swiss Canton of Geneva last week on suspicion of spying on journalists by hacking into their computers.

Authorities did not name the other individuals, apart from identifying one as a computer hacker and another as a private detective. In an increasingly bizarre tale, officials also said Giroud hired a member of Switzerland’s intelligence service – who is believed to be the fourth person in custody.

All four face a charge of hacking and an initial court hearing to outline the full charge against them will held in the next few days, a spokesperson for the Geneva prosecutor’s office told Decanter.com. He would not give a precise date for the hearing.

He added that all four are being held in isolation due to fears of collusion. ‘We don’t want them to have any contact with each other,’ he said.

Separately, Giroud is also facing fraud charges in the neighbouring Swiss Canton of Vaud, the spokesperson confirmed. He is accused of marketing falsely labelled wine.

The accounts of Giroud’s wine business, Giroud Vins SA, have been under investigation in Switzerland since 2011.

Earlier this year, Giroud tried to get a court order in his native Canton of Valais to block Swiss media outlet RTS from screening two documentaries that included information on his tax affairs, according to the Valais prosecutor’s office.

Swiss media has reported that Giroud hired a private detective due to concerns that information about his wine firm was being leaked to the press.

However, today (18 June), Swiss newspaper Le Temps reported that the private detective had double-crossed Giroud by also handing over information to journalists.

Swiss weekly paper Le Matin Dimanche quoted one wine industry source who called Giroud ‘Scarface’ – a reference to the 1980s film focused on a mafia boss played by Al Pacino.

Written by Chris Mercer

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