MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The French authorities have arrested Swiss citizen Alexander Studhalter on suspicion of being involved in the case of Russian upper house lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, local media reported Sunday.
Kerimov was detained in November at the Nice airport on suspicion of tax fraud and money laundering. The Russian lawmaker is reportedly suspected of purchasing luxury mansions in the French Riviera under fake names and at reduced price. On December 8, a court in France's southeastern Aix-en-Provence city ruled against detaining Kerimov but increased his bail to 40 million euros ($47 million).
After the detention, the Russian Foreign Ministry has sent a note of protest to French authorities and summoned France's charge d'affaires over his detention. Also, the Russian presidential spokesman said that Kerimov enjoyed diplomatic immunity. However, a source in the Federation Council, said that lawmaker had entered France without a diplomatic passport.
Alexander Studhalter was arrested on Friday, according to Nice-Matin media outlet. He is suspected of being Kerimov’s "straw man" during operations on acquisition of real estate and in money laundering schemes. Studhalter denies the charges.
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