Russia Summons French Diplomat Over Billionaire Kerimov's Detention In Tax Fraud Case

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Moscow will do its utmost to defend legal interests of Russian senator Suleiman Kerimov detained in France, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Tycoon Suleiman Kerimov watches a soccer match between Anzhi and Spartak in Moscow on April 22, 2012.

Russian businessman and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov was arrested by French police at Nice airport on Monday evening in connection with a tax evasion case, an official at the French prosecutor's office said on Tuesday.

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. Polyus also declined to comment. But the French Foreign Ministry has said it is up to the judge in the case to decide whether Kerimov will be protected by his diplomatic status.

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

"I confirm that (the charg d'affaires Paul-Bertrand Barets) was summoned", the Russian Foreign Ministry's press service told AFP today.

Kerimov's fortune peaked at $17.5 billion in 2008 before slumping to just $3 billion in 2009, according to Forbes magazine, due to so-called margin calls on his assets triggered by the 2007-2009 global financial crisis. Shares in the company fell after news of his arrest broke.

Kerimov shot to fame in the soccer world in 2011 when he bought Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala and went on a spectacular spending spree.

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