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MOSCOW, September 17. /ITAR-TASS/. A Russian court issued a warrant to place Sistema holding owner Vladimir Yevtushenkov under house arrest to prevent the businessman from exerting pressure on the investigation of the oil company Bashneft’s privatization case, a source close to investigators said on Wednesday.
Yevtushenkov, chairman and majority owner of the Russian diversified holding company Sistema, was placed on Tuesday under house arrest on suspicion of involvement in a money-laundering scheme with the assets of oil companies in the Urals Republic of Bashkortostan, which are now part of Bashneft oil producer controlled by the tycoon.
“An investigator drew the court’s attention to the fact that if Yevtushenkov was not placed under arrest, he could use his considerable financial influence, hide from the investigation, exert pressure on witnesses and also destroy evidence or otherwise obstruct the investigation,” the source said. These were principal grounds for the court to choose house arrest as a measure of restraint for Yevtushenkov, the source said.
The Russian billionaire came to investigators for questioning as a witness on September 16. After a talk with investigators, official charges were brought against him and he was taken to a court while a measure of restraint for the businessman was decided, the source said.
Yevtushenkov who is ranked by Forbes among Russia’s 20 richest people with an estimated fortune of $9 billion will stay under house arrest until mid-November in his house in the elite settlement of Zhukovka outside Moscow.
Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Yevtushenkov is charged with money laundering in the case of the theft of Bashkortostan energy companies’ shares. “The investigation has sufficient grounds to believe that OJSC AFK Sistema Chairman Vladimir Yevtushenkov is complicit in the legalization (laundering) of criminally obtained funds,” Markin said.
If convicted, Yevtushenkov may be sentenced to seven years in prison. Yevtushenkov has rejected all the accusations and claims he is innocent.