Polonsky Arrested In Absentia

August 15, 2013
The court arrested Polonsky in absentia | Фотография: Митя Алешковский/ИТАР-ТАСС

Sergei Polonsky is wanted in connection with a £120m fraud case involving luxury real estate. He was recently released from prison in Cambodia, and is suspected of hiding in Israel.

Polonsky is also the key witness against Alexander Lebedev, another wealthy businessman who is being charged with “hooliganism motivated by political hatred,” after he threw punches at Polonsky on a television program. – Ed.

Sergei Polonsky, a businessman accused of defrauding real estate investors as part of an organized group, has been arrested in absentia. Now, if he comes back to Russia he faces up to 10 years in prison. The businessman’s attorney said this “illegal” decision by the court would be appealed. Polonsky himself was unable to attend the hearing because, according to his attorney, on that same day he had to be at a hearing in Israel on granting him citizenship in that country.

On Tuesday a court in Moscow granted investigators’ motion to arrest in absentia Sergei Polonsky, a Russian businessman accused of fraud, under Article 159, Part 4, of the Criminal Code (a large scale fraud committed by an organized group).

The meeting began with the motion by the defense attorney of the Mirax Group founder to continue the case, because “just yesterday” the Department of the Israeli Interior Ministry, dealing with Jews from the CIS and Baltic countries, mandated that Polonsky must appear at their hearing.

It just so happened that this interview coincided with the time of the trial: Polonsky had to come in for an interview today at 8:30 am. Therefore, according to the businessman’s lawyer, Diana Tatosova, he could not appear in court in person. Defense has promised to present a document confirming that the interview really took place, and motioned to postpone the hearing. The attorney also gave another reason why Polonsky should not be arrested: he has five dependent children, including four minors.

The investigator, Oleg Sil’chenko did not object against postponing the hearing.

Nevertheless, Judge Alexei Krivoruchko still took the side of the prosecutor, who argued that the defense motion was an attempt to delay the trial.

“Tatosova’s motion shall be denied without hearing on the merits,” the judge ruled and went on reading through the case materials.

According to the investigator, Oleg Silchenko, the businessman was put on the international wanted list on July 25. Meanwhile, Sergei Polonsky, according to investigators, trying to get away from criminal prosecution in Russia, applied to the Israeli Ministry of Internal Affairs for citizenship. Criminal cases against Polonsky have been initiated both in Russia and in Cambodia, added Sil’chenko.

According to him, if the entrepreneur is not arrested, he can hide his assets and otherwise interfere with the investigation.

However the attorney, Diana Tatosova said that she did not understand how granting of citizenship could help to avoid arrest. “Citizenship does not provide insurance, it doesn’t let you avoid arrest,” she said. At the same time she called the hearing that is taking place, without the participation of Sergei Polonsky, a violation of the defendant’s rights.

However, this time the defense attorney’s motion didn’t do the trick. The court did not consider the arguments compelling enough, and after the meeting ruled that Sergei Polonsky must be arrested in absentia. Now the businessman could face 10 years in prison. According to investigators, having received about 6 billion roubles from citizens, one of affiliates of the Mirax Group, acting as a co-investor, has entered into a preliminary agreement with them for sale and purchase of apartments in the residential complex “Kutuzovskaya Mile.” Subsequently, the company froze the construction of the residential complex, and its management attempted to file for bankruptcy.

Now, according to Diana Tatosova, “Russia will send to Israeli authorities a request to arrest, and after that a request for extradition will be filed.” The decision itself she called “standard” and “predictable,” but said that it would be definitely appealed. “Without the participation of the defendant it is illegal to decide on his arrest,” concluded the attorney.