Long-serving Minister of the Economy Jean Castellini stepped down on Friday, September 15, in a development that can be best described as precipitous.

Mr Castellini had served in the role for more than 10 years and was widely respected for his cool professionalism. He had appeared to be a virtual fixture in the firmament of Monaco governance.

The resignation, or dismissal, and his replacement by his immediate predecessor, Marco Piccinini, came on the same day as the announcement of the failure of talks between Monaco and the European Union on an Association Agreement.

In a statement from the Palace, HSH Prince Albert thanked Mr Castellini for his long and loyal service.

But his sudden departure has been linked by some commentators to Monaco’s continuing problems with Moneyval, the Council of Europe body charged with the fight against money-laundering.

One anonymous source told the AFP news agency that Castellini had paid “for his inaction or his lack of efficiency in the Moneyval dossier, which caused confusion and doubts in international circles.”

A Moneyval delegation is due to return to the Principality from November 20 to November 24 to continue its inquisitions.

Marco Piccinini is 71. The Palace issued a statement saying that Mr Piccinini will lead “efforts aimed at strengthening Monaco’s economic position on the world stage and promoting an environment favourable to prosperity and innovation.”

FILE PHOTO: Jean Castellini