ASIABUSINESS

Cambodia refuses to extradite fugitive Russian businessman

dollarsFugitive Russian property tycoon Sergei Polonsky has been freed after Cambodia denied a Russian request for his extradition, the RAPSI legal news service cited his lawyer saying on Monday.

Polonsky, who has owned Mirax Group based in Moscow up until his flight from authorities in Russia, was released by a Cambodian court from jail where he had been held since November 2012 awaiting his transfer to Russia, his lawyer Alexander Karabanov said.

Mirax Group which is considered one of five largest development and real estate companies in the country, has operations in Russia and abroad. Founded in 1994, its revenue is over $1,65 billion according to GAAP’s 2008 figures. The company has served Polonsky well. From 2004 through 2011 when he managed the money-making giant, he earned millions of dollars and was deemed one of the wealthiest businessmen in Russia before the financial crisis of the late 2000’s.
According to the statements by the Russian Foreign Ministry the forty-one-year old Polonsky was temporarily released by the Cambodian court to complete the necessary court procedures in the town of Sihanoukville since the criminal case against him on violence charges has not been closed. “He will remain in Cambodia under travel restrictions,” the statement said.

Last year, the authorities in Russia charged the businessman in absentia on embezzlement charges and shortly thereafter, placed him on an international wanted list.

Russian law enforcement officials stated that his financial assets in foreign companies worth nearly $100 million have been frozen.

According to RIA Novosti quoting the official from the Cambodian Prosecutor General’s Office, Russia’s extradition request had already been rejected because Polonsky still faced kidnapping charges relating to an incident a year ago on board of a boat carrying a group of Russians celebrating New Year.

Russia’s Interior Ministry said that it had received no official notification from the Cambodian authorities about the rejection of the extradition request. It was reported over the weekend that Cambodian prosecutors had closed the kidnapping case against Polonsky.

Having spent three months in jail on the kidnapping charges in Cambodia last year, Polonsky, freed on bail, quickly fled to Israel where he sought citizenship in an apparent attempt to shield himself from extradition to Russia. He eventually returned to Cambodia, and was arrested in November for the second time and jailed in a high security prison in the capital, Phnom Penh.

Russian investigators accuse Polonsky of orchestrating a $175 million fraud scheme in an upscale Moscow residential project and stealing investments of more than 80 people.

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