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Monaco’s Court of Appeal Makes a Decision in the Rybolovlev and Bouvier Art Battle

The legal battles involving Dimitri Rybolovlev and Yves Bouvier have surfaced in a high profile way again. HelloMonaco has received a communiqué from Dmitri Rybolovlev’s lawyers prompted by the Monaco Court of Appeal’s decision to dismiss the case of fraud against Yves Bouvier. It was the many art transactions between the Russian and Swiss that have spawned legal battles in and outside Monaco. In Monaco there are two major legal cases – each quite different.

One case against Rybolovlev alleges influence peddling and corruption. This case is separate but often lights up the International press and is still in process. That particular case was not the subject of the Court of Appeal’s decision which focused solely on the complaint in Monaco for fraud and money laundering launched almost five years ago by the Russian billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev against Bouvier. The Court of Appeal focused on the procedural validity and alleged bias in the investigations, arrests and charges in the context of the investigation.

Was the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of this case for alleged fraud and money laundering an early Christmas present for Yves Bouvier? Not so according to Rybolovlev’s lawyers who state they will strenuously contest the decision before Monaco’s final Court of Revision. So the case against Bouvier in Monaco is still not over until this final appeal to the Court of Revision is exhausted.

The communiqué in front of HelloMonaco from Rybolovlev’s lawyers stresses that in any event there is yet another case against Bouvier – a criminal one – currently before the Swiss Courts in Geneva that he will have to answer to – “for having defrauded our clients in the course of 38 transactions over 12 years”, the lawyers say.

And they also maintain that the separate case in Monaco against Rybolovlev alleging influence peddling and corruption is unproven. We await to see what the court decides and whether it will agree with Rybolovlev’s lawyers’ viewpoint.

A reminder of what the case for fraud and money laundering was all about. Yves Bouvier was accused by Rybolovlev of having benefited, between 2003 and 2015, by several hundred million euros of undue commissions on the purchase of works of art.

Dimitri Rybolovlev’s sold one of them (via one of his corporate entities) – namely the unique DaVinci painting Salvator Mundi. It sold for a world record auction price of 450 million dollars. This has drawn even more of the world’s attention to the legal tussle over the art that Bouvier sold. Dmitri Rybolovlev maintains that he had instructed (“mandated”) the Swiss art dealer to negotiate at the best price as opposed to Bouvier allegedly buying at lower prices for himself and subsequently making a profit when reselling to his Russian client.

In answer to the court decision Rybolovlev’s attorneys Mr. Hervé Temime and Mr. Thomas Giaccardi provided HelloMonaco with the following statement:

“We note today’s decision from the Court of Appeal of Monaco.

The Court of Appeal was called upon to rule on only one point: the procedural validity of the investigations, arrests and indictments that took place in connection with the investigation of fraud and money laundering following the complaint made by our clients in January 2015 against Yves Bouvier and Tania Rappo.

This decision is not final. We challenge it and will immediately appeal to the Court of Revision.

As a reminder, from 2003 to 2015 Yves Bouvier was mandated by the companies of the Rybolovlev family to acquire numerous works of art. He led them to believe that he was negotiating on their behalf to obtain the best price from the owners of the works. But, in reality, he was acting for himself. He described to them in detail purely imaginary negotiations, whereas he had in fact already negotiated – for himself – a price much lower than the one he claimed to have obtained. Deceived by this fraudulent scheme, the companies of the Rybolovlev family paid him hundreds of millions in unauthorized markups for more than ten years.

Finally, we remind everyone that today’s decision concerns only the case of fraud and money laundering alleged against Yves Bouvier, that has been investigated since 2016 by investigative judge Morgan Raymond. It is unrelated to another ongoing investigation in Monaco concerning charges of traffic of influence and corruption made by Yves Bouvier against Dmitriy Rybolovlev. Presumed innocent, Dmitriy Rybolovlev remains confident that he will be exonerated in this separate case, in which, after 2 years of thorough investigation, no evidence against him could be presented.”

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