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Russian Billionaire Put Under Formal Investigation In France

Russian Billionaire Put Under Formal Investigation In France

So far the Russian deputy, who was taken into custody by French police as he arrived at Nice airport on Monday evening, has not been charged with wrongdoing.

"The senator status and the fact that he is a Russian citizen is a guarantee that we will, of course, put in all possible efforts to defend his lawful interests", President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

"He is being held for questioning in a case related to laundering of tax fraud proceeds", the official said. Russia's diplomatic mission in France is also engaged in this work.

Reuters cited an unidentified public prosecutor as saying the same day that Kerimov would appear before a judge in a procedural step that could have him placed formally under judicial investigation.

Forbes magazine listed Kerimov as Russia's 21st richest person with a net worth of about $6.7 billion.

The Swiss businessman said he would win the case, RBC reported.

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Until a year ago, Kerimov owned Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala football club, the BBC added.

But after losing a significant part of his fortune, he sold most of his shares in the club.

Kerimov, 51, is among Russia's wealthiest people and a member of Russia's Federation Council.

Mr Kerimov did not include any property in southern France on his asset declaration as a senator this year and his representative has denied that he owned properties there.

In 2006, he crashed his Ferrari while speeding along Nice's seafront, sustaining severe burns.