Russia Taking Steps to Protect Lawmaker Kerimov Detained in France

Russian billionaire Kerimov detained by French police in tax fraud case

Suleiman Kerimov, a senator in the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, who has an estimated fortune of €5.3 billion, is being questioned in connection with the alleged laundering of funds amassed in a tax fraud. Kerimov sold Anzhi past year.

Kerimov, 51, one of Russia's richest men, was arrested late on Monday night in Nice, southern France and then released under strict conditions, the BBC reported. It was not immediately clear if a lawyer had been hired to represent Kerimov in France.

Russia's foreign ministry fired off a note of protest to France on Wednesday as French police extended Mr Kerimov's detention for another 24 hours.

Shares in Polyus fell more than 3 percent in early trade in Moscow on Wednesday but then recovered some ground to close down 1.25 percent.

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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.

Until past year, he owned the football club, Anzhi Makhachkala, which became famous for big-money signings of stars including the Cameroonian striker, Samuel Eto'o.

In March this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree giving Kerimov the state award "For Services to the Fatherland, second class" for his contribution to Russian parliamentary life.

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