MOSCOW, November 25. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky, who is currently in custody at the Cambodia pre-trial detention center, is currently in talks with American diplomats on the subject of being granted refugee status in the United States.
Alexander Karabanov, the businessman’s attorney, said: “Our representative talked with an authorized person from the US consulate; certain agreements were made in this regard.” The lawyer confirmed that Polonsky was thinking of denouncing Russian citizenship. “If Russia does not protect him as a state, it’s not ruled out that Polonsky will cease being a Russian citizen,” Karabanov said. Polonsky previously attempted to become an Israeli citizen, but failed to do so.
On November 7, prosecutors asked Cambodia to extradite businessman Polonsky, accused of stealing 5.7 billion roubles (more than $170 million) from investors in a Moscow housing project.
Sergei Polonsky stated he was ready to compensate damage to defrauded investors in the Kutuzovskaya Mile housing project and arrange for them to come to Cambodia for talks, Polonsky’s lawyer Alexander Karabanov said on Monday.
Polonsky said that the investors could send an initiative group to Cambodia and that he was ready to pay for their trip, Karabanov explained.
“We are now discussing who exactly will go to Cambodia to discuss the terms and the format of compensation. Polonsky is going to take on all the expenses for the trip. He will also pay for the group’s stay in Cambodia. The businessman has sold his country house to cover the expenses. However, investigators are yet to prove that Polonsky is to blame for the damage incurred on the Kutuzovskaya Mile interest-holders,” Karabanov went on to say.
“According to the indictment, the damage caused by Polonsky is slightly over 2 billion rubles, and he is ready to compensate it to the interest-holders because he values his own business reputation. There are places where he can do business and then seek a fair ruling on his case,” Karabanov emphasized. He added that Polonsky was having difficulties with money. However, he had assets, which could be sold.
“Polonsky’s measure of restraint will depend on whether he will be able to return the money or not,” the businessman’s lawyer said.
Polonsky was arrested in Russia in absentia. He was detained in Cambodia after Russia had issued an international arrest warrant for the tycoon.
On June 14, the investigation department of the Russian Interior Ministry brought charges against Sergei Polonsky in absentia for fraud in the construction of the Kutuzovskaya Mile housing complex. Investigators believe that a Polonsky-controlled company received about 5.7 billion rubles from interest-holders but then froze the construction and failed to meet its contract obligations. After that, the company’s leadership intentionally initiated bankruptcy procedures and the firm’s subsequent liquidation. Their actions damaged the interests of more than 80 people.