Surprisingly, a Swiss court is reopening an investigation into Swiss billionaire Yves Bouvier, at the behest of his nemesis Dmitry Rybolovlev

Surprisingly, a Swiss court is reopening an investigation into Swiss billionaire Yves Bouvier, at the behest of his nemesis Dmitry Rybolovlev | Pro Club Bd

Almost a year ago, Swiss businessman and freeport magnate Yves Bouvier declared his years-long international legal battle with Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev a “complete victory” after a Swiss court dropped the last of the remaining charges against him.

However, this victory proved to be short-lived.

As he had vowed at the time, Rybolovlev has successfully appealed the Geneva court’s decision to drop the case and, surprisingly, a criminal appeals court has reopened the investigation.

For the past seven years, Rybolovlev has persistently pursued criminal and civil charges against Bouvier, whom he alleges defrauded him out of a billion dollars in some 38 art transactions valued at $2 billion. He has attempted to bring charges against Bouvier in courts in Monaco, Switzerland and Singapore, and even in a related case against Sotheby’s in New York.

Bouvier claims in his defense that he was free to levy whatever surcharge he felt appropriate for the art deals, prompting further debate as to whether he was technically acting as a consultant, agent or dealer and what specific tax obligations to one Customers associated labels.

According to court documents and a statement by Rybolovlev’s lawyers yesterday, the Geneva court echoed the Russian collector’s arguments against Bouvier and referred the case back to prosecutors for retrial. Bouvier employees Tania Reppo and Jean-Marc Peretti are also named as defendants.

“We welcome the decision of the Chambre d’Appel that the Geneva Public Prosecutor’s Office will conduct further investigations,” said Bouvier’s lawyer David Bitton in a statement. “We remain hopeful that the same decision will be made and the case settled in Mr Bouvier’s favour, as has happened in all courts around the world where Rybolovlev has taken legal action against him.”

The statement states that Yves Bertossa, “The same prosecutor who previously confirmed that Rybolovlev’s claims were unfounded will now reconsider the case.”

Russian millionaire Dimitri Rybolovlev (R) leaves the country after he appeared at the Monaco courthouse October 19, 2017 and was charged by a judge with aiding and abetting privacy invasion as part of his involvement in a long-running fraud dispute with Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images.

“This verdict shows the untenability of Yves Bouvier’s defense and the nonsense of his allegations,” Rybolovlev’s lawyers, Sandrine Giroud and Benoit Mauron, said in the statement. “Our clients are waiting for the continuation of the proceedings and are convinced that the criminal liability of Yves Bouvier and his employees will be established in a timely manner.”

The previous case was dropped after it was revealed that Rybolovlev had influenced the investigation in Monaco, including with lavish gifts and trips there for senior police officers. For example, in September 2017 in what the French press dubbed the “Monaco Gate”. Philippe Narmino, the city-state’s former justice minister, resigned Le Monde published text messages showing that he was working on Rybolovlev’s behalf to influence the art fraud case.

It was reported at the time that Narmino had decided to take “early retirement” just hours later Le Monde published the lyrics, which hinted at “a huge scandal of influence at the heart of Monaco’s institutions.”

The termination of the proceedings was therefore reversed and referred back to the public prosecutor’s office for investigation, according to the statement by the lawyers.

“Yves Bouvier has chosen to plead through the media, proclaiming an alternate reality and making egregiously false statements about the case,” the attorneys continued in the statement. “Our clients prefer to rely on the judiciary and praise the independence and quality of the work of the Geneva judiciary. You have every confidence that the criminal liability of Yves Bouvier and his accomplices will be proven promptly.”

Bouvier fired back in his own statement, saying that Rybolovlev tried to “destroy my business, my reputation and my life”. Bouvier added that Rybolovlev’s attacks on him had nothing to do with selling art, but that he was in the thick of it “The most expensive divorce in history and wanted to devalue his art collection.” He further accused Rybolovlev of “stealing my free port business in Singapore and setting up his own for the Russian Federation in Vladivostok”.

That said Yves Bertossa, the senior Swiss prosecutor art newspaper last year that “most of the exhibits introduced in support of Rybolovlev” “were illegally and disloyally produced or collected in the Monaco investigation” and were biased by violations of an “extreme gravity”.

Bertossa did not respond to a request for comment.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect comments from Bouvier and his attorney. An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that lead prosecutor Bertossa had resigned.

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