Elena Rybolovleva's petition for 'the most expensive divorce in history' was a high-stakes battle over Dmitry Rybolovlev's immense fortune. © Ulys
In 2014, at the height of a bitter divorce battle with his wife of 23 years, Elena Rybolovleva, Russian multi-billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev organised the arrest of his wife when she travelled to Cyprus, where much of his fortune is placed, to discuss a settlement with him. The oligarch is close to high-ranking figures in Cyprus, and the circumstances of the arrest were, at the very least, highly unusual, while confidential messages swapped at the time by Rybolovlev’s aides spoke of secret meetings with a man called “our friend”, and a “president”. In this third report in a seven-part series of investigations into the oligarch’s activities, Mediapart unveils the disturbing background to Elena Rybolovleva’s arrest.
Dmitry Rybolovlev (left) with Prince Albert II of Monaco, May 4th 2013. © Reuters
When Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev took control of AS Monaco in 2011, he had not only offered himself a football club, he had secured himself a base from where he began spinning a web of influence in the Riviera micro-state, including around Monaco’s royal family. In this second of a seven-part series of investigations into the oligarch’s activities, Mediapart lifts the lid on a developing scandal shaking the Rock.
Dmitry Rybolovlev (left) with Prince Albert II of Monaco. © Reuters
Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought football club AS Monaco in December 2011. But the man whose assets include a Greek island, luxurious properties worldwide including a Palm Beach mansion bought from Donald Trump, an Airbus, and a vast collection of artworks, had set his eyes on offering himself much more – namely, a country. This investigation is the first in a series of seven Mediapart reports into the activities of the oligarch, based partly on documents from the Football Leaks data files.
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, better known as Neymar Junior. © Reuters
Documents from Football Leaks lift the lid on the real cost and the dealings behind the record-breaking transfer in the summer of 2017 of Brazilian football star Neymar from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Revealed here by Mediapart, they tell of massive commission payments, up-to-the-wire negotiations that almost collapsed amid a tetchy moment of bluff, tax dilemmas and the club’s suspicions that some of those accompanying the player to Paris were in undeclared employment. Meanwhile, despite the capture of one of the world’s most celebrated players, the transfer appears to represent a financial abyss for PSG.
Former PSG sporting director Olivier Létang (right) with the club’s president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi. © Reuters
Talent scouts for French club PSG were required to detail the ethnic origins of potential youth recruits as an essential criterium in the club’s selection of players in a blatant discrimination policy that lasted over several years until this spring, Mediapart can reveal. As a result, a youngster now considered to be one of France’s most promising players was disregarded by PSG on the grounds of his black skin.
Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, president and majority shareholder of AS Monaco. © Reuters
In December 2011, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, with an estimated wealth of about 6.8 billion dollars from his interests in potassium fertiliser production, bought a two-thirds share in AS Monaco, the football club based in the tiny French-controlled Riviera principality of Monte Carlo, where he resides. Mediapart can reveal that his grand ambitions for the club, which plays in France’s top-flight division, Ligue 1, saw him attempt to hide his massive and illegal funding of the team behind a supposed marketing contract involving an offshore structure of companies in the British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong. But his chosen partner in the scheme finally pulled out, threatening a “neutron bomb” of revelations, while the governing body of European association football, UEFA, was to turn a blind eye to the deal.
PSG general manager Jean-Claude Blanc (left) with the club’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. © Reuters
Over several years, Qatar injected 1.8 billion euros into French football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in a massive breach of the Financial Fair Play regulations of European association football’s governing body UEFA. Mediapart reveals here the background to the affair and how the then president of UEFA, Michel Platini, and his secretary general, Gianni Infantino, who is now president of FIFA, helped cover up the fraud, allowing the club to escape exclusion from the prestigious and lucrative Champions League.
The La République en Marche party conference was held in Paris on October 21st, 2018. © MJ
The governing party set up by President Emmanuel Macron, La République en Marche (LREM), is seeking to mobilise and enthuse its activists as important elections approach. As part of that process it has developed a range of tools and documents inspired by business and management culture in which everyone is called upon to run grassroots initiatives. But as Manuel Jardinaud reports, these 'kit form' methods are not to everyone's tastes.
On the right, Colonel Jacques Rosier, head of French special forces in Rwanda. © DR
Mediapart has published a video filmed in the summer of 1994 by French soldiers in Rwanda. It exposes the passivity of the army during one of the most embarrassing episodes for France during the genocide in that country: the massacre at Bisesero. The revelation comes as French judges complete their long investigation into the claims that the French military was "complicit" in genocide and crimes against humanity. Meanwhile human rights groups say they fear that the victims of the atrocities will be denied justice. Fabrice Arfi reports.
President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on September 7th, 2009,during Brazil's annual celebration of independence day. © Reuters
A former Brazilian finance minister, Antonio Palocci, claims that the issue of hidden payments was discussed during a meeting held between the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and the Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on the evening of September 6th, 2009. An investigation into the sale of French Scorpène submarines to Brazil and the construction of a naval base at Itaguaí in the South American country has revealed the existence of up to 70 million euros in commissions paid by the Brazilian partner company of the French naval defence firm Naval Group. Karl Laske investigates.