Russian Billionaire Put Under Formal Investigation In France

Russian Billionaire Put Under Formal Investigation In France

Tycoon Suleiman Kerimov watches a soccer match between Anzhi and Spartak in Moscow on April 22, 2012.

The Kremlin was battling today to secure the release of a billionaire Russian politician who was detained by French police in Nice early this week on suspicion of tax evasion. Thursday, November 23, the court chose to release Karimov, if he will pay the bail of five million euros.

The prosecution requested that Kerimov be kept in custody and a decision by a judge was due in the night from Wednesday to Thursday. Polyus also declined to comment.

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Russia's state-run Rossiya 24 TV station cited an unnamed source as saying Kerimov had denied any guilt. It was not immediately clear if a lawyer had been hired to represent Kerimov in France.

"I confirm that (the charg d'affaires Paul-Bertrand Barets) was summoned", the Russian Foreign Ministry's press service told AFP today.

Kerimov, originally from Russia's southern Dagestan Republic, was arrested on Monday evening upon his arrival at Nice Cote D'Azur International Airport.

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In the past, he has held shares in the world's largest potash producer Uralkali and controlled Dagestani football club Anzhi Makhachkala but later sold most of his shares.

The so-called Anzhi project, to transform a side with little prior success from one of Russia's poorest regions, into a European powerhouse happened nearly overnight but just as quickly Kerimov, ranked by Forbes magazine as Russia's 21st wealthiest businessman, took an axe to the club's budgets.

A French judicial source said Kerimov faces accusations of purchasing several luxury homes on the French Riviera using shell companies, which would have enabled him to reduce his tax obligations to France.

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