Friday, September 25, 2020


On Retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco

April 2006

Minister of State Jean-Paul Proust leaked a false story to the Nice-Matin newspaper that the Prince had refused to accept Franck Biancheri’s resignation, in a bid to stave off the finance minister's removal.  

Unfortunately, it had the effect of frightening our informants, who could not understand the Machiavellian dynamics and use of disinformation at play. 

As my finance ministry agent HUNT put it:  “People on the street are extremely confused, can make no sense of what’s going on.”  

Public opinion was going against the Prince for his waffling and not making his program clear.  

Consequently, Monegasques who previously bayed for Biancheri’s blood now began to feel sorry for him due to his position in the middle of this tug of war.

One of the Prince’s first acts as Sovereign was to decree that the flag always fly above the Palace in daylight, even when he was not present within the principality, a departure from Rainier’s policy, who had it removed when he was away.  

Word reached me that Monegasques perceived this new measure as a symbol of avoidance; it seemed to them a device to conceal the Prince’s frequent absences from the country he was supposed to be governing.     

As one of my spies put it:  “He’s avoiding us.  And now he thinks he’s fooling us.”

It was clear little could be done until the fundamentals were right.  

And the main wrong fundamental was the minister of state.  

Proust had to be replaced with someone new who, as prime minister, would execute the Prince’s program; someone who understood that the Palace was in charge of Monaco’s destiny, not the government—and respect that it is the function of the government to put the Prince’s plan into place.

I had no doubt about this, having heard from a spy within Proust’s camp that a) Proust did not care what the Palace wanted to do b) could care less about anything JLA instructed him to do and c) subscribed to a French imperialistic view of Monaco:  it’s a small state—who do they think they are? 

Only with a new minister of state, I was certain, could we move forward against the undesirables.

When I spoke with the Prince by phone at ten past nine on the evening of March 30th, I replayed DST chief Pierre de Bousquet’s question:  “Why doesn’t the Prince choose his own minister of state?”  

One of the Prince’s concerns had been, “What would the French think?”   

Now we knew. 

But the Prince replied:  “Out of respect for my father.” 

“It wasn’t your father,” I said.  “The people around your father chose Proust—and now they’re glad they did.”

(I don't know if anyone spoke to the Prince as honestly, and bluntly, as I did. Pity, because he could have used more of that.)

I finally understood, all these many months later, that “what will the French think?” and “out of respect for my father” was simply code for:  I don’t have it in me to take control.

LIDDY tried to put it into perspective when I met him in M-Base on April 6th.  

He told me the French believed Biancheri and Narmino had something incriminating on the Prince. It otherwise made no sense to them that Biancheri was still finance minister and Narmino had become justice minister.

With regard to Narmino, LIDDY reported that huge amounts of money had been transferred from the Balkans (Sarajevo and Zagreb) through Barclays Bank in Monaco and back to the Balkans, managed by Narmino and his wife.  

LIDDY had counted 86 such transactions—faxes—signed by Narmino’s wife using her maiden name, Christine Giudici.

I dreamt I was in Reading, Pennsylvania, woke up certain I was in London, and was absolutely astonished to discover myself in bed at M-Base. 

(When I phoned Clair George and he said, “I can’t keep up with you,” I replied, “I can’t keep up with myself.”)

April 7th began with a coffee social in M-Base for a banking contingent from Liechtenstein, including the chief of their Financial Intelligence Unit (the closest thing they had to an intelligence service), Rene Brulhart, who at once felt like an old friend.  

We ascended the steps of The Rock and assembled by 9:45 in a Palace conference room, with JLA masterfully presiding.  

Liechtenstein presented their banking model and confirmed for us that Monaco’s SICCFIN “had no teeth.”  

Afterwards I met JLA in his office for a private meeting.

Proust:  “He has betrayed the Prince,” said JLA.  “His pronouncements about government changes [to the media] run contrary to what he has been told, especially with regard to Franck Biancheri.”

SIGER:  JLA would lunch with Interior Minister Paul Masseron that day and instruct him to get on with the restructuring SIGER around Proust.

After lunching with the Liechtenstein group, I met privately with Rene Brulhart and laid out my vision for an association of intelligence services from Micro-European countries:  Monaco, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Andorra, San Marino, the Vatican, and Malta.  

Rene welcomed this idea.  Liechtenstein currently had no meaningful contact with Monaco, so he was happy enough just to be in contact with us.  It would be amazing, he agreed, if we could extend this concept to the other micro-states.

LIPS from Paris dispatched an officer down to Monaco with secret briefing papers on President Putin, whom the Prince would meet in just over ten days, following his North Pole expedition.  

I looked through the documents when they arrived and found their contents disappointing; pitiful, even, compared to an SIS briefing, which their expert would soon deliver in person. 

(Little wonder CIA Director Porter Goss found better information in The New York Times.)

That evening I dined at Quai des Artistes with my SIS liaison contact and his colleague, their top Russia House expert Christopher Steele, an impressive and highly polished professional. 

For 45 minutes next morning, the Prince and I sat riveted by Steele’s masterful and highly substantive briefing on the current state of Russia and, more specifically, Vladimir Putin.