Politician Rémy Pagani Wants to Freeze Yves Bouvier’s Swiss Assets

Yves Bouvier could owe millions to the city of Geneva.

Days after courts in Singapore and Hong Kong ordered a freeze of Yves Bouvier’s assets, administrative councilor of Geneva Rémy Pagani asked Switzerland’s finance minister Serge Dal Busco “to seriously consider freezing the assets of the freeport king still in the country, Le Temps reports.

Pagani believes the measure is necessary to ensure that the city of Geneva and the Swiss state are in a position to recover money owed to them by Bouvier, should part of his former activities be taxable in Geneva.

The Swiss businessman was arrested on February 28, 2015 following a complaint lodged by the family trust of Dmitry Rybolovlev, accusing him of overcharging the Russian billionaire during the sales of high-value artworks (see €10 Million Bail for Yves Bouvier, Indicted for Defrauding Dmitry Rybolovlev).

According to Le Temps, Bouvier, via one of his companies MEI Invest Limited, sold Rybolovlev an estimated 2 billion CHF ($2.03 billion) worth of art over a ten-year period. These allegedly included a Modigliani painting, sold by über-collector Steve Cohen for $93.5 million and purchased by Rybolovlev for $118 million. The collector also believes Bouvier sold him for $127 million a Leonardo da Vinci painting he had bought for $50 million (see Steve Cohen’s Modigliani at Heart of Yves Bouvier Case)

The Russian magnate claims that Bouvier was meant to act as broker and be paid a 2 percent commission. However, the Swiss businessman told the newspaper that he was acting as an art dealer, and thus the capital gains realized in these transactions were standard business practice.

Bouvier is domiciled in Singapore, and MEI Invest Limited is registered in Hong Kong, but both have accounts at the Compagnie bancaire helvétique (CBH Bank) in Geneva, where he was based until 2009. Pagani, backed by the Swiss federal tribunal’s jurisprudence, believes that “one way or the other, the profits realized by Yves Bouvier’s company should have been taxable in Geneva.”

A representative of minister Serge Dal Busco’s team said that he had asked his administration to examine in detail the situation from a fiscal perspective, but refused to add any further comments at this stage.

“Yves Bouvier will vigorously defend the proceedings in Monaco and Singapore,” stated a press release sent out by the Singapore PR agency Catherine Ong Associates. “[He] has instructed Singapore lawyers to apply to the court to set aside the Mareva Injunction [asset freezing] order.”


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