Former Russian tycoon held in Cambodia at Moscow's request

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 11, 2013 8:16 AM
Former Russian tycoon held in Cambodia at Moscow's request

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian police arrested Russian real estate tycoon Sergei Polonsky on Monday for the second time this year and said they planned to extradite him at Moscow's request to face embezzlement charges there.

Polonsky, 40, who was once worth $1.2 billion, is accused of fraud in a case in which authorities say 5.7 billion roubles ($175 million) was stolen from investors in a Moscow real estate development project.

He was detained this year in Cambodia and released on bail in April with two other Russians after being charged with assault and illegal detention after an altercation with the crew of a tourist boat.

Cambodian police said they tracked Polonsky down again because he had since been added to Interpol's wanted list by the Russian authorities.

"We already arrested him, but I don't know how long it would take to send him back," Kirth Chantharith, Cambodia's National Police spokesman said, referring to the legal process required prior to extradition.

The tycoon is perhaps best known outside Russia for an incident in 2011 in which compatriot and billionaire Alexander Lebedev threw a punch at him during a television talk show.

Polonsky's company, Mirax Group, experienced serious problems during the 2008 global financial crisis and was reorganized under the name Potok.

Contacted by Reuters, one of Polonsky's Cambodian lawyers, Long Salux, said he was not aware of the latest arrest.

It remains unclear if or when Polonsky will face trial over the boat incident. According to a lawyer for the men Polonsky is accused of assaulting, their complaint against the Russian was dropped, in exchange for $20,000.

(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul, additional reporting by Steve Gutterman in Moscow; Editing by Martin Petty and Robert Birsel)