February 22, 2018

Russian billionaire senator under formal investigation on tax evasion charges in France

25 November 2017, 01:30 | Cassandra Thompson

Suleiman Kerimov was put under formal investigation on suspicions of laundering tax fraud proceeds

Russian Billionaire Put Under Formal Investigation In France

Kerimov, who is among the richest people in Russian Federation, was snatched by French law enforcement after arriving in Nice on Monday night.

Valentina Matvienko, speaker of the upper house, called Mr Kerimov's arrest "unprecedented" and "inexcusable", arguing that France should have first made a complaint against him to Russian law enforcement. Chiaverini and two Swiss businessmen were also indicted.

In September, local newspaper Nice-Matin reported that a villa on the Cap d'Antibes peninsula near Nice, valued at 150 million euros and thought to be owned by Kerimov, had been seized as part of an investigation.

Kerimov has however been released but according to reports, he was freed under strict conditions.

However, a French official cited by Reuters said: "Kerimov does have a diplomatic passport, but that does not protect him from prosecution". His bail has been set at €5m (£4.4m). According to some reports, he was in France on personal business, and not on a business trip.

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Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday night it has notified France that Kerimov has diplomatic immunity.

In Russia, the businessmen, with an estimated net worth of US$ 6.3 billion, is known for his lavish lifestyle and love of fast cars.

The billionaire previously controlled the region's Anzhi Makhachkala football club, which at one point topped the Russian league when he poured millions into buying players like Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto'o.

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Kerimov the state award "For Services to the Fatherland, second class" for his contribution to Russian parliamentary life.

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