- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 30, 2002

PARIS Charges of money laundering, organized-crime activity and a co-opted judiciary again have clouded Monaco with the publication last week of a blistering book about the rich Riviera principality.
"Judge in Monaco" by Charles Duchaine, a former French magistrate in Monaco, has stirred furor in the French and Monegasque press and elicited a rapid rebuttal from the principality's government.
Mr. Duchaine, 41, was an investigative magistrate from 1995 to 1999 and paints an excoriating portrait of a principality awash with illicit money, where the rich and powerful are protected.
"Here, money has no smell, and the justice system is blocked at every level to better protect the rich investors who contribute to the fortune and the prestige of the principality," Mr. Duchaine writes in his book.
In an interview published by Le Monde newspaper Wednesday, he said both Italian and Eastern European organized crime were active in Monaco, particularly in the real estate business. He also said investigations into people connected to Monaco's royal Grimaldi family invariably went nowhere.
In one case, Mr. Duchaine told Le Monde, he began to look into likely links between the Italian Mafia and a friend of Princess Stephanie.
"At first, I was left alone," Mr. Duchaine said. But when Monegasque officials realized his investigation might be linked to money laundering, he said, he was told by the general prosecutor to end it.
"If the general prosecutor or the director of judicial services had been honest, they should have told me: 'This file is directly related to the princely family, and it is, therefore, our responsibility not to follow up on it,'" Mr. Duchaine told Le Monde.
The principality rebutted Mr. Duchaine's charges, saying Monaco's judiciary was "totally independent" and that Monaco was "actively cooperating" in a global fight against transnational crime and money laundering.
"It is time to stop these repeated attacks that seek to destabilize the difficult and courageous action of Monaco's judges," said a statement by the principality's director of judicial services released last week.
Mr. Duchaine's accusations are only the latest in a rash of charges leveled against the principality over the years.
A French National Assembly report issued two years ago described the principality's financial system as plagued by irregularities to which Monaco's politicians and law-enforcement officials turned a blind and sometimes complicit eye.
Nonetheless, for the past two years, Monaco has escaped the blacklist of noncooperative countries issued by the Paris-based Financial Action Task on Money Laundering.
Some analysts argue that the principality's government is taking serious steps to cut down money laundering and other financial wrongdoing.

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