Scandal in Monaco

A miniature principality of Monaco, perched on the overhanging cliff above the Mediterranean Sea, is considered one of the richest countries in the world. People know how to make money here, as they say, out of nothing. Monaco is full of banks, expensive hotels, here is situated the famous Monte Carlo casino, here the touristic business is thriving. Note that one of the major items of revenue in Monaco is the emission of postage stamps, intended not so much for sending letters, but for the replenishment of collections of philatelists.

The affair, which will be discussed, began in 1991 and was running for five years until it came out to the light of the day. That's how it happened.

Before the release of the next series of the commemorative stamps, there were printed - without the traditional stitching - the solid sheet-blocks of these stamps, that were not a subject to sales and quenching. Such sheet-blocks were considered as a souvenir, promotional publications, and they are actually of no value for the real philatelists. However, there were people in the administration of Monaco, who have turned these publications in a very profitable business. For several years, a large printed edition of the commemorative blocks was secretly sold to the unaware in philately, but quite rich residents of the expensive villas and apartments on the Cote d'Azur.

The calculation was simple: those rich-men were assured that the acquisition of blocks with the images of stamps is a truly good investment and that soon they will become a rarity, and in two or three years they will triple in price. And the rich people, getting the bait, were buying those sheets of prints, that were actually good probably only for some kind of bags in the bazaar ranks.

But, of course, when some of the "lucky owners" of the printed goods from the Post Office in Monaco tried to sell those vintage sheets, it became clear that they do not cost a penny, and they are surely not collectible. Among the unlucky deceived philatelists there started a commotion, they went to the court, and the scam, which received a lot of publicity, began to unwind. There surfaced names of the "stamp gangsters": Andre Palmer - the manager of the personal assets of Monaco Prince, a famous trader of the collectible postage stamps from Nice - Sarkis Kachikyan and a whole string of other participants in the fraudulent transactions.

The administration of a principality has ordered to the French manufacturer in the Dordogne to produce a series of notorious blocks of the commemorative stamps, each of which cost to the treasury exactly 3.63 French francs. Then the administration exclusively sold these blocks to Kachikyan for 200 francs, in turn Kachikyan, sold them to a certain very solid and respectable expert in the field of philately - Gerard Lerite for 400 francs per block. The last one, using an advantage of his previously unblemished reputation and authority, recklessly charmed the simpletons on the Cote d'Azur, giving them "this treasure almost for free" - for only two thousand francs per sheet! In the end, there was 1221 person, willing to effortlessly multiply his fortune through the investments in philately, but correct to say - victims of fraud. Collectively they bought a lot of "exclusive stamps" for a decent amount - 400 million francs! Perfect illustration of how the greed ruins people, isn't it?

In this whole story is now heavily involved a very experienced in such matters, investigator from the French town of Grasse - Jean-Pierre Myursino. The investigator said that a lot of work has been done already. Materials, denouncing this fraud, are already collected in the amount of ten volumes, and this is not the end. In short, the trial promises to be loud. It would be enough to give you an example from the conversation with Myursino: at his request gendarmes have searched in the office of Kachikyan, finally there were found an impressive evidences - in a safe-box of the stamp-trader there were kept the photocopies of a bank checks totaling 14.6 million francs, written personally to the the name of His Highness the Prince of Monaco, Rainier III.

Questioned in the court, the administrator of the Prince - Mr. Palmero - confessed and confirmed that the his Highness really got the money for the sale of the counterfeit blocks of stamps, that are mentioned above. He also told, for what purpose the Prince spent these funds - to replenish his own collection of stamps, which is considered one of the most completed and well gathered collections in the world...

Jean-Pierre Myursino frankly admitted that, after such a discovery, he was rushed to the court with a demand to call first of all Prince Rainier III  for complicity in this obvious scam. The investigator intended to question Prince himself and to prosecute. But here he had no luck! In accordance with the Constitution of the Principality of Monaco, the ruler has an immunity for his whole lifetime, he is the inviolable person and he is not a subject to any vessels and effects, so, Prince can not be asked about this case in any way. Finally, the administration of His Highness and the "gangsters" of the philatelic world will have to be responsible for this affair, because together they participated in the "robbery" seeking some easy money.

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