Yesterday, Le Monde revealed details about a very troublesome affair for AS Monaco’s owner, Dmitry Rybolovlev, suspected of having influenced certain police officers and magistrates of the Principality.
Often questioned in the press for his proximity to Dmitry Rybolovlev, the director of Judicial services, Philippe Narmino, very suddenly, announced his retirement yesterday. It is in regards to a sudden development in the fraud case concerning the majority shareholder and ASM president versus Swiss art merchant, Yves Bouvier, which was reported by many outlets during these last few weeks.
It is still too early to say what the consequences of this news item will be for the current French champions or on the relationship between the Principality and the Russian businessman (50 years old), who has already had issues with the law*. This situation appears to involve two of the main AS Monaco executives: the club’s owner but also Tetiana Bersheda, the billionaire’s lawyer, who has an advisory role at the club.
*In Russia in 1996, he was accused of the murder of the general director of a company of which he owned 40% of its shares. He was imprisoned for many months, before having his name cleared in 1998, with the accuser dropping accusations.
Le Monde’s article which was published today, preceded Philippe Narmino’s departure, and described the relationship between the former Director of Judicial Services and his wife with Rybolovlev as being on “the best of terms.” The latter is said to have invited the couple to his chalet in Gstaad in January 2015. Many of their telephone exchanges published in Le Monde also suggest that there were dealings between Tetiana Bersheda and the head of the Judicial Monegasque police, as well as his assistant, in particular at the time of Yves Bouvier’s arrest in 2015, accused of art fraud my Mr Rybolovlev. The AS Monaco president was accused of having links with multiple members of the police and Monegasque judicial institution.
The story dates from two years back, when Rybolovlev accused Bouvier of having overcharged him for the purchase of multiple art pieces for a fee of €1bn. The latter was charged by the Monegasque justice for fraud and complicity in money laundering. He was then stopped by police while on the way to Rybolovlev’s apartment in Monaco, after the latter had contacted him. Bouvier is certain that the Russia businessman has agents amongst the police and the judicial authorities, who tricked him. According to Le Monde, the content of multiple text message exchanges from Bersheda’s phone suggests that the lawyer was the instigator for the trap set up for Bouvier, with the aid of the Monaco police.
The Minister of Justice in the Principality, Narmino (64 years old) appears as a strong supporter of the Rybolovlev camp, when one reads the text messages published by the French newspaper. “On our behalf, we would like to thank Dmitri for his great hospitality, and once again extend our friendship and congratulate him on such a beautiful residence in Gstaad,” said Narmine’s wife in a text message to Bersheda transcribed in Le Monde. Soon after this stay, Bouvier was stopped following an order from the Monegasque justice.
When interviewed by Le Monde, Bouvier’s advisor, Mr. Francis Szpiner made big accusations saying, “I have always said that Mr. Rybolovlev befriended the Monegasque justice for his personal gain. Hereafter, we have proof that the police, the prosecutor and the minister of justice did everything to place together a group of supposed criminals in order to pass this off as a fraud case in the eye of the judge. I ask that the Keeper of the Seals lead an investigation into the Magistrate’s conduct, and that the minister of the interior investigates the situation regarding French police assigned in Monaco.”
This was right before Normina’s retirement announcement, who was praised by Prince Albert as a “great servant to the state”.