Saturday, September 5, 2020

73. FINALLY, AN EXPULSION



Mark Thatcher (arrogance on steroids)


On Retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco

December 2005


On December 10th, word reached me that Mark Thatcher, errant son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was seen walking Monaco’s streets.  

Thatcher had just copped a felony plea in South Africa for participating in the planning of a coup d‘etat in Equatorial Guinea and had been expelled from that country.  

I had an immediate concern that Thatcher had chosen Monaco for his next home.

Captain Yves Subraud checked police files and confirmed it:  Thatcher had officially become resident, on a carte temporaire, three months earlier.  

Almost all residents buy or lease an apartment as a condition of residency.  The authorities do not generally recognize keeping a full-time suite in a hotel as satisfying this requirement.  

Except for one loophole:  The Fairmont Hotel inherited this quirk from Loews, Monaco’s first American-style hotel with casino, lured to the principality by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace in 1975.  

Crafty Thatcher had learned about this loophole, from his Monaco lawyer, Peter Manasse (rhymes with pain in the ass).  

I dispatched Subraud to the Fairmont to confirm Thatcher’s status.  Indeed, he had taken a monthly contract. 

This was excellent news.  

Why?  

We now had the ideal person with whom to make an example as part of Operation Scribe. 

Mark Thatcher was universally disliked as a spoiled, arrogant exploiter of his mother’s name.  

He had made millions of pounds through dubious deals, including the one that got him chucked out of South Africa—and he scrupulously avoided paying tax to the UK.

I did not want to embarrass Lady Thatcher. So before taking action, I contacted a good friend who was very close to the former prime minister, told him the situation, and suggested that her office might want to arrange for Mark to quietly leave Monaco.

The word that came back was something like, There's no talking to Mark, do what you need to do.

Thus, I contacted my old friend Nigel Nelson, political editor at a British Sunday newspaper, The People.  

He jumped on it. 

Nelson had to investigate the story for himself, of course, and he did this quickly, publishing his piece—THATCH YER LOT – Monaco Move is at risk—on December 18th.




That afternoon I reached the Prince by phone and briefed him on the Thatcher situation. 

We had good reason to believe Thatcher’s newest associate was Ivan Todorov, a Bulgarian with strong links to Bulgarian organized crime groups.  

Todorov was already on our radar screen for other reasons, including wining and dining Bulgarian politicians aboard yachts berthed in Monaco’s harbor.  

Based on what we uncovered, our opinion was that Thatcher and Todorov had embarked in an enterprise to smuggle and peddle conflict diamonds from Africa, using Monaco as their base through Thatcher’s new residency.

I recommended the Prince take speedy action to expel Thatcher before media descended upon the principality (after Nigel Nelson's "scoop") to ask how Thatcher could possibly gain residency status only two months after the Prince announced a ban on scummy people with dirty money.

The Prince switched gears, told me he was “losing sleep” over the Narmino non-appointment. 

Again, I urged him to resist pressure to name Narmino chief of judicial services. 

“SIGER will not feel safe investigating criminal activities if the head of justice is one of Monaco’s biggest criminals,” I cautioned, using Thief # 1 Gerard Brianti as an example. 

We had learned that Brianti paid for Bruno Philipponnat’s cabana at the Monte Carlo Beach Club every summer, in return for receiving from the aide-de-camp details of the Prince’s schedule i.e. whom he was meeting on a daily basis.  

I added that Brianti had been touting himself around town as “Albert’s closest friend in the world” since returning from a hunting trip in northern France with the Prince. 

“You’ve got to avoid cronyism, or even the perception of cronyism,” I told him.  “We could overlook the Red Cross painting if it were not for Narmino’s Ageprim valuation scam with Brianti.  At least wait for the report.”


Clair George, our chairman emeritus, phoned me from Washington to check in.  

I told him what was going on. 

He said, “Keep looking over your shoulder.”
         

Next night, late, December 19th, I received a phone call from JLA and scribbled this notation into my journal:  D-Day tomorrow [Narmino decision].  A2 must make decision before 2:30 p.m.  A2 worried about political fall-out from not appointing a Monegasque on the heels of new treaty with France. 

My advice to JLA:  

Enlist Counseil Nationale President Stephane Valeri to support the appointment of a temporary Frenchman instead of Narmino.  After all, Valeri was no friend of Narmino and knew we had serious concerns about him.  

JLA agreed, and pointed out that Prince Rainier had tried to orchestrate these appointments (Biancheri, Narmino) before his death.  

I actually believe it was Rainier’s chef de cabinet, Raymond Biancheri, who choreographed this while Rainier was seriously ill.  

(Several times, Rainier told his confidantes, “I’m too ill to rule any more,” and they said, “No, no, no—your son is not ready yet.”  What they actually meant was, they were not ready yet.)   

I said to JLA, “Rainier is gone, Albert is the Sovereign Prince.  He has to make the tough decisions, it goes with the territory, even at the risk of losing friends.”

One tough decision the Prince did make (it was more like a no-brainer) was to summon the interior minister to the Palace and reprimand him for approving Mark Thatcher’s temporary application for residency.  

The minister agreed that “a mistake” had been made and returned to his ministry to commence the expulsion process.

The following day, Philippe Narmino appeared at JLA’s office expecting to be handed the job he coveted as head of justice.  

Instead, JLA grilled him.  Narmino admitted nothing, denied all.  The Prince put off making a decision.

JLA had also checked with the external affairs ministry for their file on Igor Yurgens, the Russian supposedly appointed Monaco’s Consul to Moscow.  

The ministry had nothing on file about Yurgens.  Not a copy of his passport, not a curriculum vitae, no address, nothing.  No one knew who had appointed Yurgens, who had recommended him or what his credentials were.  Certainly, no one had vetted Yurgens’ suitability for this honor.  

That was left for me to do.


With Christmas approaching, the pressure was off—temporarily—to make the Narmino appointment.  

Tamara Rotolo had decided to visit Monaco for the Christmas holidays with her daughter Jazmin.  

I neither encouraged nor discouraged her, but agreed to meet with them should they appear. 

And so it was that we met on December 26th in Fusion; I gifted both with silver trinkets from Tiffany. 

They had suffered a difficult few months with paparazzi hanging outside Jazmin’s school, and uncertainty about her status even while the Prince openly acknowledged having sired Nicole Coste’s son, who arrived on this earth long after his daughter.  


Mother and daughter felt left out, ignored and hurt.  

Especially Jazmin.  

All she wanted in the whole world was to meet her father.  

The first question she wanted to ask him:  

“Do you have asthma?”  Jazmin suffered asthma. 

As it turned out, the answer was yes—the Prince told me later:  he suffers asthma around cats and, as a child, he suffered in cold weather.

The Prince telephoned me at 5:50 the following afternoon.   

He was going for a haircut, he said, and would drop by M-Base afterwards, in about 45 minutes, for a martini.  

I mentioned that his daughter Jazmin was in Monaco. I suggested he meet her for the very first time, alone, without her mother, in the secrecy of M-Base.  

I told him that this simple gesture would go a long way toward finalizing a solution. 

“I don’t think I’m ready for that,” the Prince replied. 

I suggested we talk it through over martinis.  

I guess it scared him off because he never appeared, nor called, and when I phoned looking for him at eight o’clock he claimed to have been waylaid by some SBM friends and now had to change clothes for the ballet at 10:30.  

He said he’d call with a view to a late rendezvous, but never did.  


Running away, hiding out, as usual. 

That evening the Prince missed the perfect opportunity to meet his adorable daughter.








On December 30th, I drove Tamara Rotolo and Jazmin across the Italian border for lunch in Bordighera at Garibaldi in the old village.  

This was where I discerned that Rotolo suffered a serious drinking problem.  Red wine, Fernet-Branca, and Grappa—she consumed every drop of alcohol in sight.  

And when we dropped down to Bar Centrale for hot chocolate, she ordered another Fernet-Branca. 

Back at M-Base late afternoon, Tamara drank a Pastis followed by a whole bottle of wine, leaving her daughter Jazmin upset and embarrassed.  

As Rotolo drank, she grew mean and surly, taking nasty verbal swipes at her daughter, who finally took refuge in the back bedroom.  

I distracted Rotolo and went back to see Jazmin, who was crying. 

“Does this happen a lot?” I asked. 

Jazmin tried to be protective of her mother.  “We’re getting help,” she replied. 

I returned to the living room. Rotolo was completely crocked.  “Albert was a lousy f---” she snarled.  “I wish I didn’t have a daughter.” 

She insisted on joining me for dinner at Quai des Artistes, where she proceeded to flirt with my 81-year-old father, sitting on his lap, directly across from my mother. 

Jazmin, of course, was greatly upset by this spectacle.  

That night, back in her hotel (the Marriott in Cap d’Ail), she became physically sick to her stomach, brought on, I am convinced, by her mother’s misbehavior.


As if that wasn’t tragic enough, at nine o’clock JLA told me by phone that the Prince had met with Philippe Narmino and agreed to give him the top job at justice.  

However, the official document would not be signed until the Prince’s return from a New Year’s Eve visit to Cape Town, so we still had a little time.


One of my reliable assets visited M-Base the morning of New Year’s Eve.  

He told me that Gerard Brianti was the brains behind the Narmino/Pastor bad guy network; that his main link to the Prince was through Philipponnat.  (I already knew this, of course, but validation is important.)

It was Brianti, he added, who had stolen money left behind by Jews deported from Monaco in 1944.   

According to the Paris Shoah Museum, Monaco’s police arrested and deported 200 Jews when Germany replaced Italy as occupier of the principality in the latter years of World War II. 

Jean Geismar, a Belgian descendant of Albert Samdam and Alice Goughengheim, who perished at Auschwitz, had been trying to collect 1,400,000 euros his ancestors left behind in Monaco—and he was being given the runaround.  

(The principality has never made any restitution to its Holocaust victims.)  

Again, Brianti was scheduled to hunt wild boar with the Prince, two weeks hence, and using that to trumpet his so-called influence over his “best friend, Albert.”

“Shoot me a boar,” I said to the Prince.  “Better yet, shoot Brianti.”


Later on the 31st, I phoned Thierry Lascoste.  

Special circumstances had come to light through Tamara Rotolo’s visit in Monaco, I told him, and should be considered before final agreement. 

“Like what?” he demanded.

Like, she may be an alcoholic and an unfit mother.  

On the basis that the Prince should care about—and have some input regarding—his daughter’s well being, I proposed a provision for Rotolo to seek counseling or join Alcoholic Anonymous in order to financially benefit from the agreement.  

Or that Jazmin should be enrolled in a European boarding school like Le Rosey in Switzerland. 

It was the last thing Lacoste wanted to hear, and although the Prince told me he agreed this was a good idea, he apparently instructed Lacoste otherwise, saying, “I do not want her in Europe,” and consequently no such provision was ever requested. 

Moreover, the Prince and Lacoste had tacked on a new condition to any financial agreement:  

The Prince would not recognize Jazmin as her daughter until her 18th birthday.


I knew this was going to be a deal-breaker. 

I had already told the Prince recognition by her father was what Jazmin wanted most.

If he had done the one simple thing, meeting her in private when he had the opportunity, he would undoubtedly have staved off the drama that blew into the Palace with hurricane force two months later.