Friday, July 25, 2014

THIERRY LACOSTE 1: PRINCE ALBERT'S PERSONAL LIAR







October 2005

On retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco


In Monaco on October 17th, I met with Virginia Gallico, lady-in-waiting to Princess Grace and, after her death, to Princess Caroline, and confidante to Prince Rainier.  

Gallico did not know of my princely mission but met me as a long-time acquaintance. 


Gallico told me she despised Thierry Lacoste and questioned his legal abilities.  


Actually, she said he is “a terrible lawyer,” adding that Princess Caroline, who in the past had retained Lacoste for legal counsel, had lost faith in Lacoste and would have nothing more to do with him.  


Gallico was particularly livid over Lacoste’s mishandling of the Prince’s relationship with Nicole Coste, the flight attendant from Togo and mother of Albert’s illegitimate son.  


The media debacle exploded, said Gallico, because after Prince Rainier died Lacoste cut off Coste’s financial support.  


Gallico referred to Lacoste as a “vulture” for how close he stuck to the Prince during the six days preceding Prince Rainier’s death, “hoping to seize power along with him.”


Coincidentally, my next meeting was with… Thierry Lacoste, the first and only time we would meet.  


He squeezed a few minutes in for me at seven o’clock in Bar Americaine at Hotel de Paris.  


Lacoste looked a little like Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean character and carried a buffalo briefcase from Hermes. 


“What has the Prince told you about me?” I asked, not wishing to waste time covering old ground.


“CIA, FBI, DST…” Lacoste bobbed his head, his eyelids fluttering imperiously.


“Good.  So you know what I do.”


Lacoste said he had no objection (!) and proclaimed it “useful,” though qualified this by moaning about the FBI having kept files on his mother, Nadia, an American citizen who handled media relations for the Palace, while the DST believed her to be a CIA agent.  


This apparently left him with disdain for intelligence services. 


Lacoste lost no time informing me of his status as the Prince’s “best friend,” the same as Robert Munsch, though when I mentioned Munsch, it was a mystery to Lacoste (as to everyone) why the Prince continued to tolerate such a pushy leech.


Lacoste was familiar with our investigations into Franck Biancheri and Philippe Narmino.  


He ventured the opinion that Biancheri should be sent far away (as ambassador) and that the allegations against Narmino were “probably true.”  


The problem, he said, was that Narmino had been promised the top Justice job by Prince Rainier three years ago.


Nobody seemed to understand one simple fact:  Prince Rainier was dead. 


Furthermore, during most of the last five years of his life, Prince Rainier had been very ill, and those around him exploited his incapacity to think clearly.  


Prince Albert was now Sovereign.  


It should not have mattered what Rainier promised to anyone because:  a) he was gone and b) he was not in his right mind when he’d made such promises.


I mentioned Carl Carlsson, on whose trail of bankruptcies we’d briefed the Prince and whom the Prince knew to be bandying his name to attract new investors/suckers.  

Lacoste expressed concern, explaining that the Prince was “too nice,” which is what almost everyone said about him. (Those who knew the Prince well used nice as a euphemism for weak.)


Lacoste had a matter of his own he wished to discuss.  


He had an important client who was resident in the principality, a Lebanese national named Samy Maroun.  


Maroun had a little problem.  


Like many of the other toadies in Monaco who suffered from Albertitis, Maroun wanted to buy a table at the Princess Grace Foundation Gala.  


The problem was, this gala takes place in New York City, and Maroun was frightened to travel to the United States.  


Something about dealing in embargoed oil and Iraqi Food for Oil corruption. 


Lacoste asked me these questions:  


Was Maroun on a US watch list?  Would he be stopped at Immigration and hassled if he attempted to enter the USA?  


Lacoste offered me payment to find out.  


I declined this opportunity, explaining to Lacoste that I worked only for the Prince and that I strenuously avoided any conflict of interest, which included receiving payment from any other person or entity.  


I hoped Lacoste learned something from this, for it was quite outrageous that on one hand he was trying to influence—and even manage—the Prince’s decision-making in Monaco while, on the other, not only representing Monaco-based clients, but representing clients whose continued presence in the principality was detrimental to the new ethic the Prince was publicly promoting (if not actually executing).  


But I think my point sailed over his head.



THIERRY LACOSTE 2: CONFLICT OF INTEREST





December 2005

On retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco


I presented myself at Lagardere Media in Paris for an 8:30 breakfast meeting with Jean-Luc Allavena (JLA), chosen by the Prince to become his new chief of staff. 

As I stood at the open French windows of JLA’s expansive office and admired a view of golden sunlight upon the Arc de Triomphe, I wondered if this poor fellow knew what the heck he was getting into, moving from a high-powered corporate job in one of the world’s most beautiful cities to a cutthroat royal court inside a gossipy, malicious hurricane of exploiters, working for a man who cared more about his next date than affairs of state.

JLA’s last day in this office would be the following week.  

A secretary brought in breakfast:  coffee, orange juice, croissants, brioche, butter and jam. 

I provided JLA with our dossiers on the Chandler brothers, Jean-Paul Carteron, Dan Fischer/Francu, Umar Jabrailov, and the Freemasons, including a list of Monegasque Masons.

JLA requested our finished report on Franck Biancheri by December 8th.

With regard to Philippe Narmino:  he had already blackened the name of the current Chief of Judicial Services and jostled him out of position to make room for himself, expecting his own appointment to that top job any day.

With reference to SIGER:  its officers operated in fear of retribution for investigating corrupt government officials.  They needed protection, insulation, and autonomy to investigate without fear of losing their jobs or being transferred to traffic control.  They needed greater powers to inspect records and question suspects and witnesses.  

JLA concurred.

I briefed JLA on our liaison partnerships with the CIA, SIS, and DST, and our program to cultivate relationships with other intelligence services.

I also warned JLA about Thierry Lacoste’s conflicted interests in Monaco.  

JLA assured me that while Lacoste had been the Prince’s lawyer and confidante in the past, he would now return purely to his role as lawyer.  

I had my doubts.

From JLA’s offices, I walked to DST headquarters across the River Seine.  

Thierry Matta welcomed me onto the locked thirteenth floor for a substantive discussion on a number of issues.



THIERRY LACOSTE 3: BATHROOM CABINET






December 2005

On retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco



I provided Jean-Luc Allavena (the Prince's chief of staff) with a cryptographic cell phone for future communication.  

We gave one to the Prince, too, but he neglected to learn how to operate it—and, in any case, neglected to carry it with him.  

I possessed information from a reliable source that Thierry Lacoste had re-vamped his concept of creating a “kitchen cabinet,” whose true aim would be to wield influence from behind-the-scenes by those (Lacoste, Steven Saltzman) who maintained conflicts of interest.  

“We don’t need a kitchen cabinet,” said a bemused JLA.  “We’ve got areal one.  I’ll tell the Prince that I’ll leave if a kitchen cabinet is created.” 

“May they at least form a bathroom cabinet?” I joked.

Lacoste had just told JLA’s new cabinet communications director about his meetings in Los Angeles with lawyers representing Tamara Rotolo (the mother of the Prince's daughter, Jazmin), then instructed her not to tell JLA, which was not only insensitive, but plain stupid.  

It validated other stories doing the rounds about Lacoste’s indiscretion and incompetence.  

Lacoste had tried to launch a “think-tank conference” in Monaco and sent the Palace an invoice of one hundred and fifty thousand euros to foot the cost.  

JLA intended to speak to Lacoste later in the day—and to void the invoice and quash his plan for a “think-tank.”

So by now, Lacoste, among others, were sorry JLA had wound up as chief of staff.

The knives were being sharpened.


THIERRY LACOSTE 4: EGG ON FACE





January 2006

On retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco





Next afternoon, I met Romain Clergeat of Paris Match, as part ofOperation Scribe.  

I introduced myself to Clergeat using the time worn principle of off the record.

We met in the bar of Quai des Artistes and eventually ambled down to Stars & Bars for a bite.

Clergeat told me he had seen photos of the Prince engaging in homosexual sex, “taken at a party, fifteen years ago.”   

The Prince’s sexual preferences did not interest me, except for one thing:  I always wondered, based on his behavior—erratic, indecisive—if he was being blackmailed by somebody, or more than one somebody.

The Paris Match reporter was also absolutely convinced that the Prince had a third child somewhere in Europe.  

I had the same concern, but to those who ridiculed the Prince’s parentage of Alexandre and Jazmin, I spun thus:  “In the early 1700s, King Augustus of Poland had 365 illegitimate children, give or take a dozen.”  

It seemed a royal prerogative.

Clergeat also believed the Nicole Coste debacle was engineered within Monaco to embarrass the Prince.  

Objective:  To put him on edge and distract him from taking control at a crucial juncture.  

If this were true (and I believe it was), it certainly had had the desired effect.

We agreed on a mutually beneficial relationship whereby Clergeat would investigate leads I provided.  

His only condition was that I organize an interview with the Prince for a photo-story that would detail all the wonderful things the Prince was doing to improve the principality and cleanse it from corruption and money laundering.

Perfect.

Guess again.

The Prince’s lawyer, Thierry Lacoste, nixed any such relationship because of his personal grudge against Paris Match for exposing a situation (Nicole Coste) that stemmed from his own incompetence.

Paris Match had been sued, had lost, and paid a penalty.  

But they appeared not to harbor any ill will and showed good faith to start fresh and move forward.  

Lacoste would have none of it because of the egg on his own face.


THIERRY LACOSTE 5: IS HE COMPLICIT IN BLACKMAIL?






November 2004

On retainer  to Prince Albert of Monaco



A trusted informant passed me disturbing news about two persons very close to the Prince who were part of what I would later come to know as the Paris Clique:  

Thierry Lacoste, a lawyer known to the Prince since childhood, son of Nadia Lacoste, who for many years handled media relations for the Palace, and Lacoste’s good friend Steven Saltzman, an American, and son of Harry Saltzman, one of the original James Bond movie producers.  

Both were said to be waiting in the wings for Albert to inherit the throne. 

Furthermore, Saltzman allegedly possessed a videotape he had made at the Prince’s 40th birthday party inside a Paris striptease-club in which a young woman is seen to perform a sexual act upon him.  

Saltzman had allegedly taken to showing this video at select parties around Monaco, saying, “This is what I have on your Prince.”  



THIERRY LACOSTE 6: HOW HE "F----- UP"







May 2005

On retainer to the Prince of Monaco




The international media had just revealed that the Prince had an illegitimate son, Alexandre, sired with a black air stewardess from Togo named Nicole Coste.  

(To me, the Prince blamed this fiasco on “weakness of the flesh.”)  

It was thought his Paris lawyer, Thierry Lacoste, had botched the on-going negotiations, and out of frustration Nicole had gone public, possessed, the Prince told me, of an “African chip on her shoulder.”   

He added that his lawyer Lacoste “f----- up.”

I asked the Prince if he had any other children I should know about for future damage control.  


He answered no, full knowing there was likely another beyond Alexandre and Jazmin.



THIERRY LACOSTE 7: THE LACOSTE & SALTZMAN SONG & DANCE




Steven Saltzman, Lacoste's co-conspirator


May 2005

On Retainer to Prince Albert of Monaco



On May 11th FLOATER arrived in Monaco and hit the ground running for another round of Operation Hound Dog.  

That evening I joined the Prince for a private one-on-one dinner at the Palace at nine o’clock.  I was shown by Palace staff into the parlor, filled with family photographs and sculptures, and handed a Kir Royale.  


When the Prince appeared, he seemed to me a deer in headlamps.  


He was still not sleeping, he told me, in the “big and lonely” Palace, returning at night to his Monte Carlo apartment.  


The way the Prince bounded around among stiffly starched, white-gloved servants reminded me of Warren Beatty in Heaven Can Wait.


The international media had just revealed that the Prince had an illegitimate son, Alexandre, sired with a black air stewardess from Togo named Nicole Coste.  (To me, the Prince blamed this fiasco on “weakness of the flesh.”)  


It was thought his Paris lawyer, Thierry Lacoste, had botched the on-going negotiations, and out of frustration Nicole had gone public, possessed, the Prince told me, of an “African chip on her shoulder.”   He added that his lawyer Lacoste “f----- up.”


I asked the Prince if he had any other children I should know about for future damage control.  He answered no, full knowing there was likely another beyond Alexandre and Jazmin.


Because of the Coste-Lacoste debacle, the Prince gave me permission to try to resolve the Rotolo-Jazmin situation on a human level, out of court—and the media.


The Prince fumed, over Soupe Cremeuse au Cresson, about the letter Jean-Paul Carteron had sent him, and suggested doing away with Carteron’s Monaco World Summit, a private venture thinly disguised by Carteron as quasi-official.   “Carteron bought his Legion of Honor,” the Prince told me.  


We already suspected that Carteron was using the Monaco World Summit to launder money from Bulgarian arms deals, in his capacity as Honorary Consul of Bulgaria to Monaco and his close relationship with Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeone Saxe-Coburg, who allegedly received a brokerage fee for the import and export of armaments.


I gather the Prince had not had time to change the Palace kitchen chef, nor to instruct the chef to alter his menu, for our food that night was the kind of special dietary meal one prepares for an octogenarian with serious health issues, right down to plum brandy at the end—a tonic for constipation.  


Alas, the Palace staff still catered to Prince Rainier’s ghost.  



May 12th. 


The Prince waited in the lobby of my apartment building, having arrived early, and I rushed over to escort him upstairs for a briefing with FLOATER.  


For twenty minutes, FLOATER detailed what he had in mind for the coming week, including a stop in Paris to see Steven Saltzman.  


It held the Prince’s complete focus, unusual for him as he usually nodded off, for up to twenty seconds or longer, to a point where I diagnosed Narcolepsy.


That evening,  Prince invited me for drinks at his apartment.


I urged the Prince, over Johnny Walker Blue Label whiskey, to clean out his stable, start fresh with his own appointees, and do it quickly, and that he’d have only one shot to get it right


FLOATER went Paris to Hound Dog Steven Saltzman, who’d been aggressive and obnoxious over the phone, insisting that his lawyer Thierry Lacoste be present for their meeting.  (Aggressive andobnoxious were adjectives one heard over and over again applied to Saltzman.)

Their meeting took place in Lacoste’s office at 10 Rue Labie on May 18th.   


Saltzman began by trying to corral FLOATER’s “unauthorized biography of Prince Albert” into his domain on the basis that he controlled (so he said) all possible sources of information on the Prince.  


Without his say-so, said Saltzman, nobody of any consequence would speak to FLOATER.  


He portrayed himself as Albert’s gatekeeper while also suggesting he held the keys to the principality, with Thierry Lacoste backing him up and egging him on.  


Saltzman spoke as if he’d been granted some kind of special authority to handle or co-opt media projects about the Prince, when in fact he possessed no such authority at all.