Russian billionaire senator under investigation in France

Saul Bowman
November 24, 2017

The Kremlin has vowed to defend billionaire senator Suleiman Kerimov, arrested on suspicion of money laundering and tax fraud in France. Kerimov sold Anzhi a year ago.

In the lower house of parliament, lawmaker Rizvan Kurbanov asked the Russian foreign ministry to make representations on Kerimov's behalf with the French authorities.

The source added Kerimov would be held in custody for at least another 24 hours.

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.

"We have still not received from the French authorities any explanation of the reasons for the detention of our colleague", Kurbanov told parliament.

The billionaire previously controlled the region's Anzhi Makhachkala football club, which at one point topped the Russian league when he poured millions into buying players like Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto'o.

Kerimov is ranked by Forbes magazine as Russia's 21st wealthiest businessman, with a net worth of $US6.3 billion ($A8.8 billion). In March, Mr Putin gave Mr Kerimov an award "For Services to the Fatherland, second class".

Kerimov was arrested at Nice airport overnight into Tuesday.

A French judicial source said Kerimov faces accusations of purchasing several luxury homes on the French Riviera using shell companies, which would have enabled him to reduce his tax obligations to France.

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