NICE, France (Reuters) – Police in Monaco arrested Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, who owns football club AS Monaco, on Tuesday for questioning in an investigation into corruption and influence, the Le Monde newspaper wrote.
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football – AS Monaco Training – La Turbie, France, March 29, 2018. Dmitry Rybolovlev from Russia, President of the AS Monaco Football Club, comes to AS Monaco Training. REUTERS / Eric Gaillard / File Photo
Le Monde also said the police raided the luxurious La Belle Epoque residence of Rybolovlev in Monaco.
A Monaco judge has been investigating for over a year, whether Rybolovlev in his long-standing dispute with the Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier influence on the prison officers of Monaco.
The Russian claims that Bouvier betrayed him with $ 1 billion worth of dollars by overcharging him on 38 works of art bought over a ten-year period, and his former art consultant in Monaco, Singapore and Switzerland sued. Bouvier has denied wrongdoing.
The prosecutor of Monaco confirmed to Reuters an operation in connection with the investigation, but declined whether Rybolovlev was interrogated by the police.
Asked about the Le Monde report, Rybolovlev's lawyers in Russia refused to ask if he was interviewed: "We demand that the presumption of innocence regarding Mr Rybolovlev be strictly respected."
All participants have denied wrongdoing.
The Russian businessman, who had made his fortune of several billion dollars through the sale of two Russian fertilizer manufacturers, bought in 2008 the villa of US President Donald Trump in Palm Beach for about 100 million US dollars.
The survey of a person being examined is a standard procedure. Being investigated in Monaco is not synonymous with an indictment. It is the first step of an investigation.
The feud between Rybolovlev and Bouvier prompted the resignation of Monaco's chief of justice in September after Le Monde wrote daily about links between Rybolovlev and Monegasque judicial officials.
Rybolovlev spent more than $ 2 billion on the purchase of 38 Bouvier masterpieces between 2003 and 2014.
In 2017, Rybolovlev sold Leonardo's Da Vinci's Christ portrait "Salvator Mundi" for $ 450 million at an auction by Christie, making it the most expensive painting ever to be sold.
Ryboloblev also sued Sotheby's for $ 380 million because auction house Bouvier helped trick him. Sotheby's has described the claim as "desperate" and without merit.
Reporting by Matthias Galante in Nice, Richard Lough in Paris and Polina Devitt in Moscow; Letter from Richard Lough; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Nick Tattersall