He was suspected of having robbed a Monegasque pensioner of the amount of 2.5 million euros, but this citizen from across the Atlantic was finally acquitted by the Criminal Court. In this case, the American was prosecuted for fraudulent facts and fraudulent misuse of a vulnerable state. The accused is a 76-year-old man, born in Algiers and of French nationality, and a naturalised American in 1988. One day in 2003, at a chance meeting, he became acquainted with the pensioner in question, a former Dior accountant who invested his money mainly in secure investments and had some 3 million euros on his bank accounts. Very soon, the two men became friends and invested large sums in real estate in the United States, mainly in Florida.
In 2009, the nephew of the retiree was alarmed to discover that his uncle had been reduced to a single apartment in the Principality. All the money had gone, in 2007. The subprime mortgage crisis with terrible financial consequences led to the collapse of real estate in the United States. Was this the real reason for the retiree’s abysmal losses? “It is clear from the investigation that all his operations were financially unsuccessful,” said Judge Florestan Bellinzona. For the defendant, on the other hand, business was flourishing, as it was for his relatives. At the hearing, it appeared that the businessman had lied about his true identity: he pretended to be the illegitimate son of a countess. As for his professional past: he never held a high level position at Pan Am but was a simple steward. Everything became even more turbid and nebulous as soon as one checked his criminal record: he claimed to have a clean past. Yet, according to the investigation, this individual appeared to have been a notorious crook in France. A letter sent to his first wife when he was detained in 1970 is also on file. The court ultimately turned to the US authorities for testimony on his journey to Miami, where he currently resides. “The letters interrogatory addressed to them,” reminded the magistrate, “was intended to verify the fortune, patrimony, sources of income, and so on. But this never returned to the courthouse of the Principality.” There was also no success in the charge of abuse of vulnerability. The two medical assessments of 2010 mention “a person in full possession of all his mental faculties, not suffering from any memory disorder or reasoning”.
The nephews demanded justice, because their uncle, now 92 years old and remarried, no longer helps them. They believed he was the victim of the American crook. To support them in this procedure, Didier Escaut noted that the funds of the pensioner had been placed under guardianship due to his state of diminished responsibility. He also highlighted the new and recent union with the secretary of the accused: “This woman is first in line to appropriate the apartment at the Parc Saint-Roman in the Principality.” The lawyer was not the only one to mention manipulations, fraudulent manoeuvers, the loan of 750,000 €, a signed lease to settle claims, diversions, etc. Alexis Marquet added that his client “urged his guardian to sell his apartment in order to settle the debts he accrued with the businessman. Successions of donations, real estate transactions and other financial arrangements completed the fraud. In return, no property title and no property will have benefited the retiree. Truth is stranger than fiction.” The Senior Counsel Olivier Zamphiroff had no way of questioning the allegations of the accused and regretted the absence the nonagenarian. “The latter decided to embark on daring adventures. It was his choice! He’s a decisive man and experts are not unanimous in demonstrating his vulnerability. This case should be dismissed!”
In defence, David Rebibou and Jérôme Culioli, from the Nice Bar, were “surprised and reassured that the family is finally getting closer to their client”. But they were surprised “that they claim 5 million euros as a civil party. The image of a united family is a fiction. They reacted in 2009 when there was nothing left. It’s disgusting! Everything that is reproached to our client happened on American soil. So you will not be able to enter the sentence. The prosecution cannot prove any fraudulent action. The intent to defraud is not proven. The civil party is simply dissatisfied that they are getting a diminished inheritance.” The court will follow the requisitions of the public prosecutor. However, the lawyers for civil parties will consider a possible appeal.
Originally published by Olga Taran at Hello Monaco