Chef Violier could have been victim of wine scam

Gaëlle Laforest

08 February 2016

Chef Benoît Violier of Restaurant de l'Hôtel de Ville de Crissier, who killed himself last week, could have been the victim of a wine scam.

According to Swiss business newspaper Le Bilan, Violier may have lost up to 2 million Swiss Francs (£1.4m) in a fine wine fraud orchestrated by a company called Private Finance Partners, whereby Violier had bought fine wines for large sums of money, but never received the bottles.

The man behind Private Finance Partners, called 'B' in the media, allegedly scammed many Swiss restaurateurs – including three-starred Frédy Girardet and Philippe Rochat, both previously chefs at l'Hôtel de Ville de Crissier – until the company was declared bankrupt in November 2015. While the enquiry is ongoing, Le Bilan believes he had been released from jail on 14 January, a few days before Violier's death on 31 January.

However, following the release of the news on Saturday, several people denied Violier had been implicated in this scam, from close friends of the chef, to B himself. He told Swiss Sunday paper Le Matin Dimanche: 'I have never had any business relations of any nature with Benoît Violier, aside from having gone to his restaurant a few times. The accusations implied today violate my honour but also and mostly the honour of this great chef and his family, which is much worse.'

The prosecutor in the Private Finance Partners case, Nicolas Dubuis, also denied Violier's link to it, saying to Swiss paper Le Nouvelliste that the chef was apparently 'not an actor, nor a victim, nor a witness' of the scam.

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