As a forest wildfire can suddenly reignite itself, the long-term legal tussle between AS Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev and Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier burst into flames again this week.
The legal fight centres on Bouvier’s role in obtaining high-value art pieces for his client, Rybolovlev. Bouvier added a considerable margin to the prices he paid and Rybolovlev claims this was a breach of trust, while Bouvier claims that he was adding a legitimate mark-up.
The public prosecutor took Bouvier’s side and overturned Rybolovlev’s complaints in a ruling made last year.
In a press release, Rybolovlev’s lawyers said that they are now confident of victory.
“The lawyers for the companies linked to the family trusts of Mr Dmitry Rybolovlev took note with satisfaction the decision of the Geneva Court of Justice. The Court granted their clients’ appeal and consequently reversed the dismissal of the criminal proceedings against Yves Bouvier, Tania Rappo and Jean-Marc Peretti, who are under investigation for fraud by profession, breach of trust and aggravated money laundering.
After a thorough examination of the case, the Court agreed with the arguments of the plaintiffs and remanded the case to the Public Prosecutor’s Office to resume the investigation against the defendants. “This ruling demonstrates the untenability of Yves Bouvier’s defence and the inanity of his allegations” said Me Giroud and Me Mauron.”
Bouvier can lodge a new appeal to a federal court, which would not suspend the criminal investigation. But at this stage, his lawyer, David Bitton, says his client “welcomes the decision of the court, which will see the Geneva Prosecutor’s Office carry out an additional investigation to further demonstrate the hopelessness of Rybolovlev’s claims”. He feels confident that “the case will again be concluded in Mr Bouvier’s favour, as has happened in all the courts across the world where Rybolovlev has tried to take legal action against him”.
The Rybolovlev-Bouvier case had serious repercussions in Monaco in 2015 and 2016. The Russian-born magnate found himself at the centre of a criminal investigation and the fall-out involved the resignation of the then-head of the Principality’s Judicial Services.
FILE PHOTO: Dmitry Rybolovlev supports his team Reuters