Monaco’s Court of Revision definitively ended the criminal proceedings for fraud and money laundering case initiated in Monaco by the Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev against the Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier. The art dealer continues to face a separate investigation in Geneva.

The verdict is in. First initiated back in 2015 by the owner of AS Monaco against the Swiss art dealer, the criminal investigation for fraud and money laundering was dismissed this Wednesday. The Russian billionaire accused Yves Bouvier of overcharging him for three paintings by Da Vinci, Gauguin and Rothko.

A total and definitive victory in Monaco

“It is a total and definitive victory in Monaco,” Mr. Bouvier said in a statement sent to Monaco Tribune. “For the last five years, I have been claiming my innocence, and today I have been vindicated by the Monegasque justice system.”

On 12 December 2019, defying all expectations, the charges against Mr. Bouvier were tossed out by the Court of Appeal on grounds that “the investigations had been conducted in a biased and unfair manner.” Dmitry Rybolovlev had appealed against this decision.

Purely procedural reasons

In their statement, Dmitry Rybolovlev’s lawyers insist that “this outcome has come about for purely procedural reasons and not because of absence of evidence against Yves Bouvier,” recalling the substance of the case: “From 2003 to 2015 Yves Bouvier was mandated by Rybolovlev family companies to arrange for the acquisition of numerous works of art. He made them believe that he was negotiating the best price for them with the owners of the works when, in reality, he was negotiating to maximize his own profit. He described to them in detail purely imaginary negotiations, whereas he had already negotiated – for himself – a price much lower than that which he claimed to have managed to obtain.” This fraudulent scheme, they said, continued for over a decade.

The Russian businessman estimates that he lost one billion Swiss francs (940 million euros) in the process. He believes he has been deceived by a person who had gained his trust.

Nothing to do with Mr. Bouvier’s role as an art dealer

In his statement, Luc Brossolet, one of Mr. Bouvier’s lawyers, claims that “the attacks by (Mr. Rybolovlev) have nothing to do with Mr. Bouvier’s role as an art dealer. Mr. Rybolovlev wanted to artificially depreciate the value of his collection as part of his divorce proceedings […],to punish Bouvier for refusing to take part in the bribery of judges in Switzerland, again to aid with his divorce; and thirdly to jail Bouvier in order to snap up his Singapore free port, and its technology, and use this to build his own similar facility in Vladivostok.”

Clear and overwhelming evidence of fraud

Contacted by Monaco Tribune, Mr. Rybolovlev’s representatives reacted to the comments. “None of this is true. The complaints against Mr. Bouvier are based on clear and overwhelming evidence of fraud of several hundred million euros. For the rest, the defamatory allegations of Mr. Bouvier and his lawyers are pure fantasy,” according to Mr. Rybolovlev’s attorneys Hervé Temime and Martin Reynaud.

Mr. Bouvier continues to face a criminal investigation in Switzerland concerning the sale of 38 artworks. In Geneva, Yves Bouvier has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and money laundering. “The investigation is underway” in these cases, the Russian businessman’s lawyers say, adding that ” over the past six months, several hearings have been carried out in Geneva, including one on June 29.”