Esplanade des Pêcheurs: Monaco Government files civil action in criminal proceedings

The Monaco Government has announced it will be standing as a civil party in “recently opened criminal proceedings” linked to the €136 million settlement it was ordered to pay the Caroli Immo group following the collapse of the Esplanade des Pêcheurs project. 

A decade on from the start of the Esplanade des Pêcheurs saga, which began back in 2014, and over a month since lawyers for Caroli Immo announced that they would be taking their case for financial retribution to the European Court of Human Rights, the Monegasque government has released a statement identifying itself as a victim of the complex affair.  

“In June 2020, the State was ordered to pay €136 million, increased with interest, to a developer as part of a real estate and cultural operation project on the Esplanade des Pêcheurs,” reads the statement, which was released on the evening of Prince Albert II’s 66th birthday on 14th March. “Recent publications on the internet and various press articles relating to the legal proceedings initiated before the courts of the Principality have led the State to question the conditions in which this conviction was pronounced, and to become a civil party today in a recently opened criminal proceedings.” 

The stop-start project would have seen a vast mixed-use development be built at the foot of the Rock in Port Hercule. Within a year of signing an agreement with Caroli Immo, the group leading the development, the Monaco Government backed out of the scheme in 2015, citing “strong reservations” about the feasibility of the project as well as its potential negative impacts on flagship events such as the Monaco Grand Prix.  

Caroli Immo, one of the Principality’s largest developers, was unhappy with the termination of the plans and sought financial retribution. In 2020, the Supreme Court of Monaco ruled in Caroli Immo’s favour  and ordered the government to pay €136 plus interest.  

See more: Development dispute doesn’t end well for Monaco

Prince Albert II stepped in to demand that both sides find a more amicable way forwards and eventually a new-look version of the project seemed to be going ahead. As reported by Monaco Life, it was agreed that the project would be restarted and that Caroli Immo would waive its court-ordered compensation package in exchange for being given a timetable to commence the works. 

Next came a case involving another Monaco-based developer, Patrice Pastor of SCI Esperanza, who sought to overturn the decommissioning of the controversial Esplanade des Pêcheurs plot by claiming there had been a “lack of competition” in the awarding of the project. It was dismissed.  

See more: Monaco court turns down Pastor bid to halt Esplanade des Pêcheurs project

However, the Caroli Immo group would soon terminate its agreement with the government in October 2023, thereby reversing its waiver of compensation, according to lawyers for the group.  

When Caroli Immo proceeded to request the pre-agreed sum from the Monaco Government, the State reportedly failed to respond. The group took this as a “desire not to pay”.  

A case seeking to enforce the financial payout was lodged with the European Court of Human Rights in February 2024, and now the government has responded with its own statement, which brings to light apparent doubts by State about the “partiality” of the original decision of the €136 million plus interest fee.  

To read the statement, click here.


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Photo source: Monaco Government