He is first encountered as an inmate of the Dachau displaced persons camp in the U.S. zone of Germany in June 1945 and transferred to Alsace-Lorraine and Strasbourg three months later on a stateless passport. There he adopts the name Le Chiffre because as he claims, he is 'only a number on a passport'. Not much else is really known about Le Chiffre's background or where he comes from, except for educated guesses based on his description.
In the novel, he makes a major investment in a string of brothels with money belonging to SMERSH. The investment fails after a bill is signed into law banning prostitution. Le Chiffre then goes to the casino Royale-les-Eaux in an attempt to recover all of his lost funds. There however, Bond bankrupts him in a series of games in Chemin de Fer. Le Chiffre kidnaps Bond's assistant, Vesper Lynd, to lure him into a trap and get his money back. The trap works, and Le Chiffre tortures Bond by striking his testicles with a 3-foot long carpet beater to force him to reveal where he has hidden the money. Upon determining, however, that Bond will not give in to torture, Le Chiffre produces a knife with the implied purpose of castrating Bond. He is interrupted by a SMERSH agent, however, who shoots him between the eyes as punishment for losing the money. The torture Bond suffers at the hands of Le Chiffre briefly upsets 007's confidence in his profession, and he toys with the idea of leaving the service until the novel's conclusion, when a new threat emerges.
Le Chiffre's death is seen by the Soviet government as an embarrassment, which in addition to the death and defeat of Mr. Big in Live and Let Die, leads to the events of From Russia with Love. In the novel SMERSH attempts to get revenge by killing Bond in an elaborate plot that would embarrass the British Secret Service within the intelligence community.
Le Chiffre is a secondary villain in the 1967 satire and appears in the only segment of the film actually adapted from Fleming's book. Similar to the novel, Le Chiffre is charged with recovering a large sum of money for SMERSH after he loses it at the baccarat table. He first attempts to raise the funds by holding an auction of embarrassing photographs of military and political leaders from China, the US and the USSR, but this is foiled by Sir James Bond's daughter, Mata Bond. With no other option, he returns to the baccarat table to try and win back the money. Later, he encounters Baccarat Master Evelyn Tremble, who has been recruited by Bond to stop Le Chiffre from raising the money. Le Chiffre attempts to distract Tremble by performing elaborate magic tricks, but fails to prevent Tremble from winning. Afterwards, he arranges for Tremble to be kidnapped and subjects the agent to psychedelic torture in order to get back the money. The torture session is interrupted when his SMERSH masters headed by the film's main villain, Dr. Noah, shoot him dead.
During the tournament, an enraged Obanno and one of his henchmen break into Le Chiffre's hotel room and threaten him and his girlfriend, Valenka. Le Chiffre does not blanch at the threatened amputation of Valenka and is granted one last chance to win their money back.
As Obanno leaves the room, his bodyguard spots Bond and hears Valenka's cries coming from Bond's earpiece. In the subsequent brawl, 007 kills both Obanno and his henchman, and Rene Mathis arranges the blame to be placed on Le Chiffre's bodyguard Leo.
During the tense tournament, Le Chiffre initially outwits and bankrupts Bond, who cannot get additional funding from Vesper Lynd. However, Felix Leiter agrees to bankroll Bond, and so Le Chiffre has Valenka attempt to poison Bond's drink. Bond is almost killed but is revived at the last moment and returns to the game. During the final round, Le Chiffre's full house bests the hands of the two players preceding him but loses to Bond's straight flush.
Enraged by his loss, he kidnaps Vesper Lynd forcing Bond to give chase, and Bond is led straight into his trap. Le Chiffre leaves Vesper, bound at the feet and hands, in the middle of the road, and Bond is forced to swerve and he subsequently crashes his car.
When Bond regains consciousness he is stripped and tied to a chair. Le Chiffre stands right in front of the chair and sarcastically says to Bond "You've taken good care of your body... such a waste." Le Chiffre proceeds to torture Bond by repeatedly striking him in the testicles with the large knotted end of a thick rope, trying to extort the password that will enable Le Chiffre to collect the tournament winnings. Bond refuses to give in and plays on Le Chiffre's fear that there will be retribution from the clients whose money he lost. An enraged Le Chiffre brandishes a knife and threatens to castrate Bond.
This is interrupted by the sound of gunshots and Mr. White suddenly enters the room. Le Chiffre makes a final plea for his life but it is to no avail. Mr. White says "money isn't as valuable to our organization as knowing who to trust" (Le Chiffre's fate was perhaps sealed by angering Obanno as this hurt the reputation of Mr. White's employer), and personally "executes" Le Chiffre by shooting him in the forehead with a Walther PPK fitted with a suppressor.