In a lengthy interview with Nice-Matin, ex-head of the Monaco Criminal Investigation Division (CID) Christophe Haget condemned the legal harassment he asserts he has been subjected to, showing his determination to fight back in his upcoming legal battle.
In 2018, Christophe Haget, 53, found himself charged with “passive influence peddling, accepting bribes, and breaching professional confidentiality and/or the confidentiality of an investigation,” alongside several high-ranking figures from Monaco in the case pitting notorious art dealer Yves Bouvier against the billionaire and owner of AS Monaco Dmitry Rybolovlev.
In January 2015, Dmitry Rybolovlev accused Yves Bouvier of defrauding him in the sale of a collection of paintings by adding exorbitant margins to the asking price. Bouvier counter-attacked, accusing Rybolovlev of having obtained help from the Monegasque authorities.
On Monday, June 1st, Haget spoke for the first time since he was charged, alongside his attorney, Mr. Florent Ellia (practicing out of Nice). Haget chose to speak out after the Monegasque Council Chamber quashed his request for the charges to be dropped last Thursday, but before the airing of Édouard Levrault‘s interview with France 3 on June 10th; Levrault is the former investigating magistrate who charged a number of top Monegasque officials.
“We police did our job well”
In this frank and direct interview, Christophe Haget and his lawyer explain that “we police did our job well in this case, we respected the law and the code of conduct. No one will ever be able to prove anything to the contrary.” Regarding the accusations of influence peddling that were launched by Yves Bouvier’s defence, he said it was merely “a defensive strategy whose only purpose is to undermine the initial complaint [against Yves Bouvier].”
“A legal and media maelstrom”
According to Haget and his lawyer, the case is a “legal and media maelstrom.” They claim “this strategy would never have been possible if the confidentiality of the investigation had been preserved and respected. Almost all elements of the investigation were systematically leaked [to the press]. All I had to do was open the newspapers to read the reports, the hearings, the texts. Via the press, we may as well have been in the courtroom with Mr. Levrault. Two years of media charges!” Christophe Haget and his lawyer, Ellia, have pointed to their complaint from August 30th, 2017 for breaches in the confidentiality of the investigation, which is still under review.
“A feeling of antipathy”
Haget asserts Judge Levrault had shown animosity towards him ever since his involvement in the Carpinelli case [in which a former police commissioner allegedly manipulated the awarding of fake residence permits in exchange for money]. Haget states he had dared to “give him [Édouard Levrault] my opinion, which contradicted what he said.” According to the former head of the CID, Levrault considered any disagreement with his own opinion to be “disloyalty.”
“A reign of terror”
Judge Levrault’s techniques allegedly terrorised the CID, even amounting to a “reign of terror” the police had to face. “The atmosphere at the courthouse, when the judge was in session, was terrible […] It’s the weeding-out technique, the psychological investigation. You don’t try to confront individuals with facts. Instead, you ask individuals what they think of others.”
“I’ve had enough!”
“I’ve had enough!” admitted Haget. “I’m tired of being insulted on social media, harassed in the press.” Ellia defended his client against allegations that he benefitted from seats in the VIP seating area at Stade Louis II. “In his role [as head of the CID], my client would go to the stadium with his badge when he was coordinating security measures. He has never gone into the VIP area of the Stade Louis II.”
Ellia also noted the practice of issuing of invitations to all Monegasque officials, which “long predates the arrival of the current president of ASM [Rybolovlev].”
“I am not afraid”
The former head of the CID expressed his displeasure with attacks against the police, “a respectable institution, regardless of whether it’s French or Monegasque,” as well as the Principality, saying he was “sick of the inanity bandied about regarding Monaco and its ‘pervasive corruption’.”
Christophe Haget seems intent not to go down without a fight. “I am not afraid to stand up in criminal court. But at what human cost between now and then!” At the time, this legal case of seismic proportions led to an unprecedented wave of support from members of the Monaco police force, who defended their leader’s reputation as he defended his own honour: “People who know me know that I am incapable of having done what they have claimed.”