THE BAJA POST
SOURCE: PR MEDIA
The Swiss attorney general’s office confirmed on Friday 4 November that the Russian billionaire and owner of AS Monaco, Dmitry Rybolovlev, is being investigated for “suspected acts illegally carried out for a foreign power”.
The investigation into Rybolovlev and his lawyer Tetiana Bersheda required approval from the Federal Council and the decision was submitted to the General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Justice and Police. A complaint was initially filed by Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier in September 2017. The investigation officially opened in February 2021.
According to a judgment from the Swiss Federal Criminal Court on 20 October 2022, Rybolovlev and Bersheda tried and failed to prevent Yves Bouvier from participating in the procedure as a private plaintiff.
The procedure, which is very rare in Swiss law, continues to examine the circumstances of Yves Bouvier’s arrest in Monaco in February 2015. French newspaper Le Monde reported in September 2017 that SMS messages from Bersheda’s mobile phone, revealed during legal proceedings, showed evidence of corruption of Monegasque officials, including then Monaco Justice Minister Philippe Narmino, ahead of Bouvier’s wrongful arrest.
The scandal, which became known as Monacogate, saw Narmino resign within days, and Rybolovlev and Bersheda placed under criminal investigation. Rybolovlev, who was sanctioned by Ukraine on 19 October 2022, remains a prominent public figure in Monaco and associate of the Prince of Monaco, Albert II. The two are regularly photographed attending AS Monaco football matches together.
Since starting legal action against Bouvier in 2015, Rybolovlev has lost eight of nine court cases filed against Bouvier in Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, Monaco and Geneva. In July 2022, a Geneva court ordered further investigation into the final outstanding legal case initiated by Dmitry Rybolovlev against Bouvier, following an appeal by the Russian oligarch’s lawyers.
David Bitton, a lawyer for Mr Bouvier in Geneva, stated that: “We welcome the latest decision of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court and are encouraged by the ongoing investigation into the actions of Mr. Rybolovlev and Ms. Bersheda.”
In response to the latest decision of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court, Yves Bouvier said:
“A Russian oligarch used all the vast means at his disposal to destroy me. He launched bogus lawsuits to kill my business and reputation. He paid private intelligence companies to follow and harass me. All of my legal teams have been targeted by sophisticated hacking attempts. Worst of all, he used his wealth and influence to corrupt European institutions and have me arrested in Monaco. This was an attempt to punish me for having refused to corrupt Swiss judges and devalue his art collection during his divorce procedure, and to seize control of my freeport businesses so they could be used by the Kremlin. The damage this has caused to my professional activities and my personal health has been immense, but I will continue to do whatever I can to assist the authorities in investigating these acts. Nobody, including Russian oligarchs, are above the law.”