Crime doesn’t pay. Or does it? This article reveals further details of two particular cases of crimes in Monaco including an Italian man accused of laundering money from the blackjack table and a Dutch man who left his hefty restaurant bills unpaid, but claims he was unwell at the time.
Laundering casino money: one year imprisonment
The money laundering case evoked during the last criminal court hearing reflected an era that seemed to be over in the Principality. But this act of concealing the origin of illegally acquired money, in order to reinvest it in legal activities, has once again fuelled an extensive corruption file. In this case, speculation in real estate by an Italian entrepreneur living in Milan: Giuseppe Bianchi.
“As one of the best blackjack players, it was enough for him to deposit the ‘dirty’ funds into an account of the SBM’s financing and collection company (SFE) to make them ‘clean’ once they were withdrawn. This money system cost him a year in prison.
In terms of personality, this fifty-year-old native of San Remo gave all the necessary guarantees. He was an important customer of the casino and he appeared to be one of the best players of blackjack (American card game). He thus took advantage of numerous invitations from the SBM with, and this is key, a reserve of money with the SFE in order to never run out of foreign currency. He and many others had paid into this account, between 2002 and 2011, some 4 million euros. He had in the meantime withdrawn 280,000 euros. These movements of money did not escape the scrutiny and vigilance of the SICCFIN (Financial Information and Control Service). The report was given and the administration triggered an investigation.
During the investigations, several cases of corruption had come up in Italy, where the defendant stood accused. President Jérôme Fougeras Lavergnolle refers to “suspicions of having perverted two trans-alpine policemen in obtaining a building permit with the mayor of Taggia (Province of Imperia).” Logically, the investigators quickly made the link between this real estate bubble and the money played at the casino. Other avenues reinforced their reasoning. What were these dozen people hiding, in depositing 2 million euros into an SFE account? Under questioning, they explained: Giuseppe Bianchi wanted to conceal his gambling addiction to his wife. It was enough to deposit the money there and the operation was transparent for the household. Obviously, the hearings were also aimed at the Italian tycoon. He presented himself as a merchant of goods, main shareholder of several companies, whose turnover is around 25 million euros.
Explanations? None! The defendant was absent at the bar, but represented by his lawyer. The Judge was still dubious: “At no time has this amount been proven. On the other hand, in the proceedings, a document shows an annual payment of 60,000 euros for his tax declaration for 2010…”
In his deduction, the prosecutor Cyrielle Colle stated in his requisitions: “This man brings no proof of the origin of the funds wagered at the Casino. The offense of money laundering has been specified. If it was set aside in the Italian proceedings, it is due to the statute of limitations. This does not necessarily mean the absence of corruption. There should be a firm prison sentence!”
The defence, represented by Franck Michel, reminded the court that there is “no evidence of the fraudulent origin of the money played at the Casino. My client is responsible forsignificant family wealth and he has been cleared of all previous charges for corruption. Relax the sentence!” At the end of an exceptionally long deliberation, the court retained a prison sentence. For his part, the defence lawyer announced his intention to appeal this decision.
Unpaid bills and a psychiatric evaluation
With a straight face, his eyes half closed and his speech haughty, the demeanour of the accused had not escaped Judge Florestan Bellinzona after a third successive appearance of this financial adviser, of Dutch origin, handcuffed, before the criminal court. Each time it has been for important facts of absconding, or dining and dashing. Following an application for psychiatric assessment, the accused was found to be not responsible and the judges declared that there could be no crime.
If his path is no longer believed to be criminal, it will have been delicious triumph for this thirty-three-year-old man, a fine gastronome for that matter. Last 11th of November, he left an unpaid bill of 1,280 euros at the Hotel Hermitage where he ordered Cristal Roederer Champagne for 800 euros as well as some refined dishes.
Four days later, he brought the same appetite to the “Café de Paris” for his dinner. Cold dishes and lobster were accompanied by several glasses of Ruinart Champagne and prestige whiskey. The gourmet, full of alcohol, was unable to pay the bill of 665 euros … He was sentenced to fifteen days in prison. Two days after leaving prison, on 3 December, he again treated himself to a feast at the “Quai des Artistes”, at the Port Hercule. When it came to paying the bill of 565 euros, this individual left the restaurant high and dry for a dinner composed of smoked salmon, fish soup, Cristal Prestige Champagne, seven vodkas…
The Tribunal this time held to the requisitions of the public prosecutor with a month of imprisonment. Barely out of prison, the accused struck again on 10 January 2017, to the detriment of the “Fairmont Monte Carlo”. Here too, a few hundred euros went up in smoke, under the powerful bouquets of fine wines
At the last hearing, the Judge, after listing all the offenses charged, referred to the report of the psychiatrist of the CHPG. “The practitioner concludes that this man suffers from psychiatric disorders and that he hears voices. He is not responsible …” The accused in turn insisted that since he has been under medical treatment, “all is well!”
“The court was well advised to ask for this expertise,” said senior attorney Olivier Zamphiroff. “I would note, however, that the alleged voices were absent in the first two cases. He cannot be criminally convicted. Appropriate treatments are needed. But will he be held forever at the hospital centre?” The Defence, Arnaud Cheynut, reiterated his request “to verify the psychiatric state of my client. The expert considered that he was not responsible. I therefore still plead for leniency for this man who has found himself stuck in the Principality and who has barely 30 euros left to return to the Netherlands.”
It’s clear that crimes in Monaco come in all forms as shown by the ones here committed by an Italian and a Dutch man, from elaborate secretive bank transactions to leaving large unpaid bills, voices or no voices.