Russian billionaire arrested in France for tax evasion

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A French judicial investigator is set to decide whether any charges should be brought against Suleiman Kerimov, a Russian businessman, and lawmaker who has been detained at the Nice airport on suspicion of tax evasion.

The Russian diplomatic mission in France is working to facilitate the release of Senator Suleiman Kerimov, who was detained in Nice late on Monday.

Reuters cited an unidentified public prosecutor as saying the same day that Kerimov would appear before a judge in a procedural step that could have him placed formally under judicial investigation.

In the course of communication with journalists the representative of the Kremlin said that at the moment the Ministry of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation conducts active actions in connection with the detention of the victim.

Shares in Polyus, Russia's biggest gold producer which is controlled by Kerimov's family, were down on the news of his detention. Russian upper house's speaker Valentina Matvienko said that the Prosecutor General's Office must demand from France to observe the law and immediately release Kerimov.

Russia's state-run Rossiya 24 television station reported that Kerimov denies guilt.

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"All this testifies to an unprecedented demarche by the French", he said, adding that he hoped the Russian foreign ministry would issue a formal protest.

Originally from the mainly Muslim Russian region of Dagestan, Kerimov built his multi-billion natural resources business through a combination of debt, an appetite for risk, and political connections.

Ranked by Forbes magazine in March 2017 as the 21 richest man in Russia, Kerimov has an estimated net worth of $6.3bn (£4.8bn, €5.4bn).

He owned top flight soccer club Anzhi Makhachkala until he sold it in 2016.

According to AFP, Kerimov was accused of hiding tens of millions of euros from tax authorities while buying a string of properties on the glitzy Riviera through intermediaries.

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