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Court puts Russian billionaire, his brother in custody over alleged $44mln embezzlement

Russian tycoon Ziyavudin Magomedov Mikhail Pochuyev/TASS
Russian tycoon Ziyavudin Magomedov
© Mikhail Pochuyev/TASS

MOSCOW, April 1. /TASS/. Moscow’s Tverskoi Court ruled on Saturday to place Russian tycoon Ziyavudin Magomedov and his brother Magomed in pretrial custody for two months on suspicion of embezzling over 2.5 billion rubles (some $43.7 million at the current exchange rate), a TASS correspondent reported from the courtroom.

Ziyavudin Magomedov, a co-owner of Russia's Summa investment and trading group, along with his brother Magomed Magomedov and Artur Maksidov, the head of a company in the Summa group, were detained as part of a criminal investigation into fraud and organized crime, launched by the Russian Interior Ministry. The ministry’s official spokesperson, Irina Volk, said the case was launched into "embezzlement of budgetary funds on a grand scale, including those allocated for the construction of infrastructure and power supply facilities." During Saturday’s hearing, the three suspects denied all charges laid against them.

"The Court has granted the motion of investigation that Ziyavudin Magomedov will be remanded into custody for two months, or until May 30," judge Maria Sizintseva read out the ruling. A similar ruling was also issued for Ziyavudin’s brother Magomed.

The court rejected a motion to release the two brothers on a bail of 2.5 billion rubles for each of them.

The judge said that Ziyavudin Magomedov is suspected of committing a grave crime, punishable by a prison sentence of more than ten years. She added that the case contains testimony of witnesses, who complained of being subjected to pressure.

"Considering the information about the suspect’s personality, [and] the graveness of charges laid against him, the court sees no possibility to choose a softer form of pretrial restriction for Magomedov, like a house arrest or release on bail, as requested by the defense," the judge said.

Ziyavudin Magomedov said that all charges against him "just do not hold water." "I had no reason to steal from myself," he said, adding that his brother Magomed was in no way involved in Summa Group’s activities.

Later in the day, the judge granted a similar request from the prosecutors’ to put Magomed Magomedov in pretrial custody for two months, until May 30.

Magomed Magomedov denied any involvement.

"I would like to draw the court’s attention to numerous errors," he said. "I have no property abroad, I’m not a co-owner of any company mentioned by the investigators. I have never taken part in any fraudulent scheme and have never received any kind of dividends or payment in other form."

Defense lawyer Alexander Vershinin said the ruling will be appealed.

Two other unnamed suspects in the case were arrested in absentia. "Investigators currently take measures to have them extradited from the United Arab Emirates," an investigator said during Saturday’s hearings.