Russian oligarch wins appeal over Swiss closure of art dealer case

Lawyers for Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev on Thursday said he had won his appeal against Swiss prosecutors’ closure of his case against a top art dealer he accused of swindling him out of millions of dollars.

Rybolovlev, president of the AS Monaco football club, has alleged Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier charged him inflated prices on dozens of works he acquired for more than $2.1 billion.

He has brought cases against the dealer since 2015 in Monaco, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and Switzerland.

But after Rybolovlev suffered setbacks in the other jurisdictions, and saw his case against the art dealer thrown out in Monaco in 2019, the office of Geneva’s top prosecutor said last January that it planned to drop the case.

On Thursday, however, lawyers for Rybolovlev said in a statement: “The Geneva Court of Justice has ruled in favour of the companies linked to Rybolovlev’s trusts: the Public Prosecutor’s Office must resume the investigation of the Bouvier case, the closure of which has been cancelled.”

“Our clients are awaiting the continuation of the proceedings and are convinced that the criminal responsibility of Yves Bouvier and his associates will be promptly established,” lawyers Sandrine Giroud and Benoit Mauronthe said in the statement.

They added that a ruling by the court had examined the case “in detail and reverses the dismissal order issued by the Geneva Public Prosecutor’s Office on 15 September 2021”.

In a judgment delivered on Tuesday and seen on Thursday by AFP, the Criminal Appeals Chamber of the Geneva Court of Justice said that “the public interest in the prosecution continues”, adding that “the alleged damage caused” to the companies linked to Rybolovlev’s family trusts was approaching “one billion Swiss francs” (more than one billion euros).

Bouvier has always maintained his innocence in the case.

Rybolovlev was meanwhile himself charged with bribery and influence peddling in the case and Monaco’s justice minister was forced to retire over claims he accepted bribes. — Agence France-Presse

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