MONACO: Three senior Monaco policemen have been charged in connection with a corruption inquiry involving the billionaire Russian owner of the Mediterranean principality’s football club, prosecutors said Friday.
The move follows charges laid Thursday against Dmitry Rybolovlev, his lawyer, and former Monaco justice chief Philippe Narmino, who was forced to retire in 2017 over corruption allegations.
Narmino’s wife and son also face conspiracy charges.
In a widening inquiry, the head of Monaco’s criminal investigation division, Christophe Haget, his deputy Patrick Fusari, and a retired police chief, Regis Asso, have also been charged with influence peddling. Prosecutors have said they are likely to face further charges of taking bribes.
Rybolovlev was first detained for questioning earlier this week over a scandal which erupted after claims he was swindled out of nearly a billion euros by a Swiss art dealer.
The Russian, whose financial backing helped Monaco win the French Ligue 1 title in 2017, has been charged with influence peddling and bribery.
Since 2015, the Russian tycoon has been locked in a legal battle with Yves Bouvier, an art dealer he accuses of charging inflated fees for dozens of works of art.
But police now suspect he may have used illicit means to garner support for his cause among Monaco officials.
Rybolovlev’s lawyer, Tetiana Bersheda, who allegedly acted as a go-between with the top Monaco justice official, has been charged with collusion.
Bersheda and Narmino’s wife and son were brought in for questioning this week.
The case emerged after Bersheda sent prosecutors a telephone recording purporting to back up charges of fraud against Bouvier.
A judge then required Bersheda to hand over her cellphone, which led authorities to uncover compromising material involving alleged collusion between Rybolovlev and top Monaco police officials, as well as Narmino.
Prince Albert II, the titular head of state of the Mediterranean principality, has promised an independent investigation into the matter.
Rybolovlev’s lawyers have meanwhile appealed the seizure of the phone, saying its contents are protected by client-attorney privilege.–AFP