Billionaire Russian lawmaker under investigation in France

Posted November 24, 2017

Suleiman Kerimov, whose interests the Kremlin has pledged to defend, is being investigated in a probe into suspected laundering of tax fraud proceeds, and could face a jail term of up to 10 years, the Reuters news agency reported. He was also ordered to post a bail of five million euros ($5.9 million) and to check in with police several times per week.

The controversial 51-year-old oligarch, who made a fortune by investing in struggling companies, represents the Caucasian Republic of Dagestan — where he was born — in the Council of the Russian Federation, the upper house of Parliament. Polyus declined to comment. "Commenting on the detention, French Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne said that the lawmaker can enjoy immunity only for actions which are carried out within the framework of fulfillment of his duties".

Russia's state-run Rossiya 24 TV station cited an unnamed source as saying Kerimov had denied any guilt.

"We have still not received from the French authorities any explanation of the reasons for the detention of our colleague", Kurbanov told parliament.

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Kerimov's fortune is estimated at $7.4 billion by Forbes magazine.

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. In March, Mr Putin gave Mr Kerimov an award "For Services to the Fatherland, second class".

Kerimov was arrested upon his arrival at the French Riviera resort's airport on Monday night.