Change in governance at Luxembourg Freeport after Swiss investor’s arrest

Yves Bouvier is reportedly to be replaced by a group of independent directors


The Swiss businessman and “freeport king”, Yves Bouvier, is expected to step down from a governance role at Luxembourg’s Le Freeport following allegations of art fraud. David Arendt, the managing director of the company, confirmed “changes in governance” will be announced shortly, although he notes that Bouvier “has never been involved in the management of the Freeport Luxembourg”. Arendt declined to comment on the legal case.

Bouvier, who is the majority investor in the Singapore and Luxembourg freeports, was arrested in February following a criminal complaint from the Russian billionaire and owner of AS Monaco football club, Dmitry Rybolovlev. The Russian accused the freeport magnate of complicity in money laundering and fraud by overcharging him millions of dollars on art transactions.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, 1498-1506, and Modigliani’s Nu couché au coussin bleu, 1916, are thought to be among the works involved. Bouvier, who was released from police custody on bail of €10m, denies any wrongdoing.

On 12 March, Bouvier’s worldwide assets were frozen by a Singapore court. The temporary order forbids him from disposing of any personal assets worth up to $500m. The court also demanded that Bouvier surrender Mark Rothko’s No 6 (violet, vert et rouge), 1951.

According to Art Media Agency, a group of independent directors—whose names have not yet been released—are due to take over Bouvier’s role at Le Freeport until his legal case is settled. David Arendt declined to comment on this point.

UPDATE: The former Luxembourg ambassador, Alphonse Berns, and the country’s former economy minster, Robert Goebbels, have been appointed independent directors of Le Freeport, and Oliver Thomas was elected chairman of the board, following a shareholder’s meeting in April. According to David Arendt, the managing director of Le Freeport, company directors are appointed for a one-year term, but the institution of independent directors to the board is permanent.