MOSCOW, December 26 (RIA Novosti) – A Moscow court has sanctioned the arrest in absentia of former senator and wealthy industrialist Sergei Pugachyov, who is now wanted by the Russian authorities, a media report said on Thursday.
The arrest warrant for Pugachyov, ousted from the parliament’s upper house in 2011, was issued last week in connection with an inquiry into the 2010 bankruptcy of his International Industrial Bank (Mezhprombank), according to sources cited by Kommersant business daily.
Mezhprombank was declared bankrupt after failing to meet Central Bank requirements and repay creditors. The bank still owes creditors more than 80 billion rubles ($2.4 billion), Kommersant says.
Pugachyov’s lawyers have appealed the arrest order, the report said. It was not immediately clear where the businessman is residing at the moment.
One source cited by the paper said Pugachyov might be suspected of organizing a large-scale fraud by issuing loans worth $900 million in Luxembourg to companies associated with the bank. That money, transferred from Russia to Luxembourg, came from unsecured loans granted to Mezhprombank by the Russian government in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Kommersant said.
While Pugachyov no longer has formal connection to Mezhprombank, he is believed by investigators to still be its main beneficiary, the paper says.
Pugachyov came under a cloud as long ago as 2002, when the French authorities began investigating the activities there of a number of Russian banking figures, Vedomosti reported at that time.
President Vladimir Putin met Pugachyov to discuss his affairs and then proposed an amnesty for capital hidden abroad, just a day after reports appeared in the French daily Le Monde about those investigations.