MOSCOW, June 20 (RAPSI) – Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky, who has reportedly jumped bail in Cambodia and has been charged in absentia with embezzlement in Russia, is hoping to become an Israeli national, lawyer Diana Tatosova said.
"Mr. Polonsky does indeed want to receive Israeli citizenship. My assistants and I are preparing the necessary documents for his application. It is not a secret," she said.
Foreigners have previously gained Israeli citizenship in order to avoid extradition. The Jewish Telegraph Agency reported a case in 1998 where an American teenager gained Israeli citizenship to avoid a murder trial in the US.
Israel is home to several Russian businessmen who have fled there to escape the reach of the Russian authorities, including Leonid Nevzlin, a former YUKOS oil company executive.
Polonsky, once one of Russia's wealthiest men, was officially charged earlier this month with embezzling over 5.7 billion rubles ($177.5 million) from investors in a luxury residential construction project in Moscow. Charges were brought against him in absentia in the presence of his attorney, after he failed to answer a summons the Interior Ministry said.
If found guilty, he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
Polonsky was until recently on bail in Cambodia, where he was arrested together with two Russian friends on December 30, 2012 for allegedly attacking the six-person crew of a boat ferrying them from a Cambodian island to Sihanoukville.
Polonsky was released from a Cambodian prison in April, but was forbidden to leave the country.
Earlier this month, however, he was tracked down in Israel by the British Mail on Sunday newspaper which claimed to have found him at a luxury apartment complex in Tel Aviv.
Earlier this week Israel’s Channel 9 TV showed footage of a man who resembles Polonsky standing on a balcony with a young brunette in the center of Tel Aviv.