Monaco court dismisses case against art dealer accused of defrauding Russian oligarch

 Monaco court dismisses case against art dealer accused of defrauding Russian oligarch

(Reuters) - A court in Monaco has dismissed a case in which a prominent European art dealer was accused by a Russian oligarch who lived in the principality of fraud and money laundering, a prosecutor has confirmed.

Monaco prosecutor Sylvie Petit-Leclair told Reuters that Monaco's appeals court had ordered the closure of a preliminary investigation that local authorities had opened into art dealer Yves Bouvier in 2016 in response to a complaint brought by Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian oligarch and owner of Monaco's soccer team who in 2008 bought an oceanfront property in Palm Beach, Florida, from Donald Trump.

The court issued its ruling on Thursday but did not make public its decision explaining the ruling, sources familiar with the case said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, lawyers for Rybolovlev said the appeals court ruling was "not final." "We challenge it and will immediately appeal to the Court of Revision," they said.

The oligarch's lawyers also claimed that from 2003-2015, a period when Bouvier was hired by Rybolovlev's family companies to buy art works, "in reality," Bouvier "was acting for himself.

Rybolovlev's lawyers accused Bouvier of telling the oligarch's family companies that he had negotiated a high price for artworks when "in fact he had already negotiated - for himself - a price much lower" than the payments he collected from Rybolovlev family companies.

The Russian's lawyers said authorities in both Monaco and Geneva were continuing to pursue investigations against Bouvier.

Bouvier rejected the oligarch's assertions, saying in a statement that Rybolovlev's "arguments do not hold up to legal scrutiny and this is the reason why he has not won a single case against me in any jurisdiction."

Bouvier charged that Rybolovlev’s attacks against him had "nothing to do with the sale of art," and that the oligarch had other motives, which included depreciating personal assets while fighting a divorce case and attempting to punish Bouvier for allegedly "having refused to corrupt the Swiss judiciary for his divorce."

(Reporting By Mark Hosenball, Polina Ivanova, Maya Nikolayeva and Matthias Galante; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Updated Date: Dec 13, 2019 04:13:19 IST