Detailed revelations concerning the financial affairs of HSH Prince Albert have fuelled a media frenzy in French publications in recent days, as the former Palace accountant aired his grievances in a four-part series in Le Monde, a story soon picked up by Liberation, other national French outlets, and the Principality’s own French-language Monaco Matin.
Having served from the time of Prince Rainier until his firing last June, Claude Palmero held the title Administer of Property and in that role handled many of the financial affairs, big and small, of the Prince and other members of His family, including Princess Charlene, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie.
Since his expulsion from the Palace, Claude Palmero has taken to the courts in Monaco and elsewhere in a futile bid to win back the job he inherited from his father.
By taking his case, and a great deal of very detailed information, to the press, Claude Palmero has burned his boats with the Palace and instigated a major crisis in the Principality.
The timing could not be worse, with Moneyval about to announce its verdict on Monaco’s preparedness for a more robust implementation of anti-money-laundering measures. On the street, the prediction is that the Principality is more likely than not to find itself back on the so-called ‘grey list’ of jurisdictions that fall short on money-laundering and transparency. That will make life much more complicated for Monaco’s important financial sector.
“It’s not so much a question of a bad report from Moneyval, but how bad that report will be,” a leading Monaco lawyer said last week.
Palmero’s revelations – from five diaries in which he kept detailed notes – would appear to be the final nail in the coffin of any hope that the Council of Europe’s Moneyval will allow Monaco to slip off the hook.
At the highest level of the Monaco state, there is anger, disbelief and some embarrassment at some of Le Monde’s revelations, such as the claim that Princess Charlene paid her children’s carer off the books, in cash. Another employee had a false passport, the French daily claimed, having been informed of this by Palmero, who claims that when he found out he said at the time that it was a problem that needed to be addressed.
Many more serious anomalies have surfaced, such as the claim that Palmero was the official owner of a luxury apartment in Paris used by Charlotte Casiraghi, which, apparently, was part of a pattern in which Palmero fronted purchases in which members of the ruling family were the beneficial owners.
The Palace has asserted in recent days that it has had to reclaim much of its wealth, which, at least on paper, had found its way into Palmero’s ownership, although he claims that he was using his name as a means of stewardship to avoid complications for the family he served.
Needless to say, the media storm in the French press has been unwelcome at the Palace. But, with Bloomberg about to publish an extensive report, expected within days, the ’scandal’ is about to become much more of an issue.
As everyone with a knowledge of the power of media knows, Le Monde is one thing, English-language Bloomberg, with its immense international clout, is another.
In the meantime, the UK’s Times, Telegraph and Daily Mail newspapers have published their own features, in some cases amplifying the underlying themes of betrayal and revenge with yet more detail.
When the uproar dies down, one thing is for sure: No-one will come out a winner. Especially not the Principality itself.
FILE PHOTO: Claude Palmero