MOSCOW, August 13 (RIA Novosti) – A Moscow court issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for fugitive Russian real estate tycoon Sergei Polonsky, who is currently living in Israel and has submitted an application for Israeli citizenship.
Polonsky, the former head of the Mirax Group construction firm (now renamed Potok), is wanted in connection with the embezzlement of over 5.7 billion rubles ($176.2 million) from private investors in Moscow's Kutuzovskaya Milya residential construction project.
Moscow's Tverskoi court also heard Tuesday that Polonsky has been officially put on an international wanted list, the RAPSI legal news service reported.
Polonsky, who was charged in absentia last month, has denied any wrongdoing and alleged the accusations against him were instigated by business rivals. His lawyer Diana Tatosova said Tuesday that her client would appeal against the court’s decision to seek his arrest.
More than 80 people lost money because of Polonsky’s actions in the Kutuzovskaya Miliya case, the Interior Ministry said in a statement Tuesday. Russian police said on August 2 that the Israeli authorities had informed them that Polonsky was in Israel on a tourist visa valid until September 27.
Last month Polonsky’s lawyer Tatosova said Polonsky’s application for Israeli citizenship “has no relation to the Kutuzovskaya Miliya case.”
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 also 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.
Russia is not the only country where Polonsky has run into problems with the law. He was arrested in Cambodia in December last year together with two friends after allegedly attacking the crew of a boat ferrying the three men from a Cambodian island to a nearby resort city.
He was released on bail earlier this year, and went to Israel. His lawyer Tatosova said last month that the Cambodian authorities had allowed to him to leave the country for medical treatment.
Polonsky told Russian news website Snob in an article published Monday that he wanted to return to Russia.
“It might sound amusing,” he told interviewers Ksenia Sobchak and Ksenia Sokolov in Tel Aviv, “but I think that no later than September or October I will have the option of entering Russia. I am sure that by the end of the year there will not be a single outstanding question for me to answer.”