(CN) – A former foreign intelligence liaison to Prince Albert II of Monaco cannot bring an employment lawsuit against the principality since it holds sovereign immunity under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a federal judge ruled.
Robert Eringer claimed Monaco refused to pay him a 40,000 euro quarterly fee for his services as an intelligence advisor. Eringer had allegedly performed “intelligence missions” for Prince Albert since 1999 and was kept on retainer from 2002 until 2008 when he left the prince’s service because he had not been paid.
“Eringer primarily acted as an intelligence advisor, created liaison relationships with intelligence services of other countries, and investigated various individuals who were attempting to enter the prince’s ‘social orbit,’ to become associated with organizations that the prince patronized, or to obtain government positions,” U.S. District Judge Gary Feess wrote, summarizing Eringer’s declaration to the court. “Eringer also performed other tasks, such as conducting negotiations with the mother of the prince’s illegitimate daughter, investigating who would leak information about the prince to the press, and helping a woman who alleged she was raped by the prince.”
Eringer admitted that his duties flagged in 2007, saying that his main focus shifted to maintaining relationships with other intelligence services, though he agreed to work on special investigations for the prince.
The judge said such duties do not fall under the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. “Eringer cannot credibly argue that maintaining relationships with representatives of foreign intelligence agencies is an act that private parties perform,” Feess wrote. “Countries do not regularly share sensitive intelligence information with private parties, and there is no reason to think that Eringer could have maintained the liaison relationships had he not been associated with a sovereign nation.”
Although Eringer acted as somewhat of a private investigator for the prince, which could be classified as commercial activity, his job to protect the prince elevated the job to a higher status, the court found.
“In other words, although private investigative services are available commercially, similar services have a fundamentally different nature when they are used to protect a sovereign leader’s power and prestige, just as private security services have a fundamentally different nature when they are used to protect a sovereign leader’s safety,” Feess wrote.
“Further, even if the court were to conclude that Eringer’s secondary activities of responding to the prince’s specific investigative directives were commercial, it would nonetheless conclude that Monaco is immune from suit,” he added.