MOSCOW – A Russian tycoon accused of embezzling millions of dollars in a real estate scam was taken into custody in Moscow on Sunday after being deported from Cambodia, officials said.
Sergei Polonsky, who is in his 40s, was detained on an island off the south-western town of Sihanoukville in Cambodia last Friday for overstaying his visa. Upon his arrival at Domodedovo airport in Moscow, he was immediately taken into custody.
“Mr Polonsky was extradited to Russia, where he will be prosecuted according to the law,” the Russian Interior Ministry said in a press release.
“He is a naughty man,” said Mr Uk Heisela, chief of the investigation unit at the Cambodian Interior Ministry’s immigration department.
Polonsky had lived illegally in Cambodia for more than two years and his activities “affect Cambodian national security”, Mr Heisela said, adding that eight other Russians had been arrested and also face deportation.
Polonsky’s wife, Ms Olga Deripaska, denied that he was living illegally in Cambodia. “We received a new visa for a year in November,” she said.
In August 2013, a Russian court ordered Polonsky’s detention after he was charged in absentia for his alleged role in a 5.7 billion rouble (S$153 million) swindle which defrauded over 80 investors. Investigators have accused the businessman of orchestrating the scam linked to the construction of a housing complex in 2007-2008.
Polonsky was detained in Cambodia in November 2013 after a request by Russia, but freed by an appeals court in January last year. Cambodia’s Supreme Court in April last year rejected Russia’s request to extradite him, ruling that he could not be sent back home because the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.
Polonsky, who denies the accusations, said at a Phnom Penh news conference last year that it was a “big case” involving “a lot of bad men”.
He still faces a separate trial in Cambodia over allegations that he and two other Russians threatened a boat crew in the kingdom at knifepoint. He was granted provisional release in April 2013 in that case after spending three months in prison in Cambodia, where he has business interests.