The defamation case brought by Larissa (sometimes spelled Larisa) Chertok against NEWS.MC and its editor, Ian Brodie, has been adjourned until December 19 at Monaco Criminal Court.

Ms Chertok is claiming one euro in damages plus 25,000 in legal costs.

In an article published on May 2 this year it was stated that she is the beneficial owner of a number of properties in France and Switzerland, including a 15th century Chateau on the southern shores of Lake Geneva, through SCI companies registered in Monaco.

Ms Chertok is the sister of Igor Kolomoisky, who has been charged with a number of fraud offences in Ukraine. Ms Chertok’s application for citizenship in Switzerland was rejected because of the unclear origins of her wealth.

Among a wide range of enterprises, some of which have since been nationalised, Kolomoisky was the owner of a TV channel that brought to fame Volodymyr Zelensky, who played a fictional role as President. The oligarch supported Zelensky’s bid for the presidency itself, and the two men were close for some time. Kolomoisky was arrested and charged in September.

Kolomoisky was also one of the principle owners of PrivatBank, in which many Ukrainians held deposits and from which $5.5 billion disappeared before the bank failed.

As previously reported, the court case being brought in Monaco meets all the criteria of a so-called SLAPPS lawsuit. According to the European Parliament: ”One of the techniques used to harass and silence journalists, human rights defenders, activists and other society watchdogs are Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs), i.e. groundless or abusive lawsuits, disguised as defamation actions or alleged constitutional and/or civil rights violations…”

NEWS.MC stands by the original article and the case will be defended most vigorously. A Parisian law office has been engaged on the lawsuit, together with local legal representation.

The court case has been brought at a time when Monaco is striving hard to conform with the requirements of the Moneyval organisation – part of the Council of Europe – which puts pressure on individual states to apply strict anti-money-laundering measures. In the Principality, this has been brought home to many residents by the application of new rules for voluntary Associations, requiring members to provide personal details that were not previously required.

An important legal change requires Monaco companies operating as SCI entities to declare beneficial ownership, with a loss of anonymity for shareholders.