Thu, 23 May 2019

The American founder of the Baring Vostok investment company has been arrested in Moscow and could face charges of large-scale fraud.

Michael Calvey appeared for a custody hearing in Moscow's Basmanny district court on February 15, Russian state media reported.

Calvey was detained on February 14, and five other people were also reportedly detained in connection with the case and face similar charges.

Baring Vostok confirmed in a statement that 'four employees were detained.'

'The actions of law enforcement are not directly related to the activities of Baring Vostok and other portfolio companies,' the statement posted to the company's website said.

A court spokeswoman said Baring Vostok partner Vagan Abgaryan would also face a custody hearing on February 15.

The case stems from a protracted dispute with Vostochny Bank shareholders. Baring Vostok owns 52.5 percent of the bank. Prosecutors accused the defendants of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles ($37.5 million) by persuading Vostochny Bank shareholders to approve a share sale at an unrealistically low price.

Interfax also reported that former Vostochny Bank CEO Aleksei Kordichev was among those detained and that he would also face a custody hearing on February 15 at the Basmanny district court.

A defense lawyer told Interfax that 'the criminal case is based on materials provided by the [Federal Security Service].'

Kirill Dmitriyev, head of Russia's sovereign wealth fund, was quoted by Reuters as saying he would personally vouch for Calvey, saying that he and his team were highly professional and committed to ethical standards.

Bernard Sucher, a U.S. investor and entrepreneur who worked in Moscow for two decades, told RFE/RL that Calvey 'helped pioneer private equity in Russia and is viewed around the world as its unofficial leader.'

'He's a good man, and the news that he has been detained for any reason at all is astonishing,' Sucher said.

Founded in 1994, Baring Vostok is one of the largest private-equity firms in Russia and the former Soviet Union, according to the firm's website. It manages more than $3.7 billion in assets. It is particularly active in the technology sector and owns a stake in the Yandex search engine.

Before founding Baring Vostok, Calvey worked for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Salomon Brothers. He is a member of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, D.C.

With reporting by Reuters, RBC, AP, and TASS RFE/RL

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 25 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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