MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian investigators formally charged US investor Michael Calvey with fraud on Thursday following his controversial arrest, his lawyer said.
Investigators presented Calvey with the indictment on the charge of large-scale fraud as part of an organised group, which can be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
“He has refused to admit his guilt or give any testimony” before consulting with his defence, lawyer Dmitry Kletochkin told Russian news agencies.
Calvey is the founder of the multi-billion-dollar Baring Vostok Capital Partners (BVCP) investment fund. He is one of six people arrested in a probe into the alleged embezzlement of 2.5 billion rubles (US$37.7 million) from Russia’s Vostochniy Bank.
French partner Philippe Delpal, one of the five others detained in the case, was also indicted Thursday, Russian media reported.
BVCP confirmed the indictments, and said in a statement that “it has full confidence in the legality of its employees’ actions, it does not agree with the charges.
“BVCP has always acted in full compliance with the law,” it added.
Calvey has said in court that the charges against him are being used as an instrument in a shareholder dispute, insisting that he has done nothing wrong.
Several high-profile figures have spoken on behalf of Calvey, with Russia’s business ombudsman Boris Titov saying the case was a typical corporate dispute and calling his arrest illegal.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said: “We have no doubt that truth will prevail as a result of the investigation. Nobody but the court can pronounce Michael Calvey innocent,” he said.
Speaking at a forum with European businessmen in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he “never met Mr Calvey” but that the arrest was “at the centre of rather lively political discussions.”
“I heard what respected people have said (about him), and I think that many others heard it too,” he added.
The US embassy in Moscow said Thursday it had not been granted permission to visit Calvey, saying that Russia was legally obliged to do so.
“Russia’s obligations under the Bilateral Consular Convention require them to provide consular access within four days,” the embassy said in a statement.
Calvey was ordered held in pre-trial detention by a court five days ago, one day after being detained.
“We have expressed our strong concern about this delay through diplomatic channels,” he said.
During his annual state of the nation address on Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin called for fewer criminal proceedings against businesses.