Russian billionaire faces charges

MOSCOW – Russian authorities on Saturday arrested billionaire Ziyavudin Magomedov on charges of embezzling more than $35 million, in one of the highest-profile prosecutions of a Russian tycoon in years.

Mr Magomedov denied the charges at a pre-trial hearing, where a judge ordered that he be held in custody until May 30.

One of Russia’s richest men, the 49-year-old Mr Magomedov holds assets in construction and logistics through his sprawling Summa Group. He also has investments in US tech ventures, including the Virgin One Hyperloop project.

He was detained along with his business partner and brother, Magomed Magomedov, and Artur Maksidov, the head of a company in the Summa Group that was involved in the construction of a soccer World Cup venue in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

Both businessmen will also be held in custody until May 30, the court ruled.

At a hearing in Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court to decide whether Mr Magomedov and his associates should be detained before their trial, Judge Maria Sizintseva said they had acted as part of an organized crime group and had tried to put pressure on witnesses. She rejected an offer from Mr Magomedov to put up a $35 million bail bond, and ordered he be detained.

Citing the arguments against granting bail, the judge said Mr Magomedov had access to his own aircraft, and assets abroad. The day before he was detained, he had booked a flight from Moscow to Miami, the judge said.

Summa said it planned to appeal the court decision and was ready to cooperate with the investigation.