Vedomosti said Mikhail Prokhorov, a co-owner of Interros, which holds key assets in Russia's nickel, platinum and gold mining sectors, was reportedly apprehended Tuesday while on holiday in the Courchevel ski resort, in the French Alps.
An Interros spokesman confirmed the reports, but refused to comment, saying only that the company's top management believed the arrest to be a "mistake." He said Prokhorov was expected back at work next Monday.
The paper quoted another high-profile Russian holidaymaker, just back from Courchevel, as saying Prokhorov and his assistant Dmitry Shatov were arrested in their hotel during a raid carried out by Lyons regional police, as part of an operation to crack down on prostitution. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the two men were taken to Lyons for further investigation.
It remains unclear exactly what accusations have been leveled against Prokhorov by French police, but a reporter with the Lyons-based periodical Le Progres has said they relate to drugs, prostitution and money laundering.
Prokhorov, a Courchevel regular, is said to throw lavish parties every time he comes to the resort, inviting dozens of prostitutes. Fellow Russian visitors say France's law-enforcement agencies may suspect him and his business associates of involvement in pimping activities.
Prokhorov owns a 54.8% stake in the Russian company Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest producer of nickel and platinum, and 51% in Polyus Zoloto, the country's No. 1 gold mining company.