Moscow: Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has no plans to sell his majority stake in Monaco football club, despite being charged with corruption in the principality, his spokesman said on Saturday.
Rybolovlev "intends to continue supporting its development as he has always done since the moment he bought it in 2011," his representative Dmitry Chechkin told TASS. The tycoon returned to Russia last week after being charged along with eight other people — including the principality's former justice minister and three high-ranking police officers — with corruption in connection with a fraud case involving a Swiss art dealer.
Chechkin's comments come a day after Prince Albert of Monaco said it was too early to say if the Russian would have to sell his stake in the club. "For now we must respect the presumption of innocence, unless he decides himself to end his presidency at AS Monaco," Albert told the French investigative website Mediapart in an interview published late Friday.
"If all this turns out to be true, I think he will step down on his own," he added. Albert has vowed there will be no state interference in the investigation.
Rybolovlev bought a 66.67 percent stake in the club in 2011 when it was struggling in the second division — the state of Monaco owns the remainder. The Russian has since pumped in millions of euros, helping Monaco to win their eighth Ligue 1 title in 2017.
In spite of bringing in Thierry Henry as coach, the club has started this season badly with just seven points from 13 matches, leaving them one place off the bottom of the table.
Since 2015, Rybolovlev has been locked in a legal battle with Yves Bouvier, the dealer he accuses of having swindled him out of up to a billion dollars by charging inflated fees for works of art.
But police now suspect he may have used illicit means to garner support for his cause among Monaco officials.
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Updated Date: Nov 17, 2018 18:20:44 IST