A prominent U.S. investor currently on trial in Russia on embezzlement charges says he plans to continue to invest in the Russian economy when his prosecution comes to an end.
Michael Calvey, the founder of the private equity group Baring Vostok, again proclaimed his innocence as his high-profile trial resumed at Moscow’s Meshchansky district court on February 17.
"We can't wait when the hearings on the matter proceed further and the process is over and we can return to what we do best, which is to invest into Russian companies," Calvey said after the court adjourned the hearing until February 24.
Answering a question by an Interfax reporter, he said he had “a desire and intention to continue working and investing in Russia, but everything depends on the end of the process."
The trial of Calvey and six associates -- French national Philippe Delpal and Russian citizens Vagan Abgaryan, Ivan Zyuzin, Maksim Vladimirov, Aleksei Kordichev, and Aleksandr Tsakunov -- started on February 2, almost two years after their arrest.
The defendants deny any wrongdoings, saying the charges against them are being used to pressure them in a business dispute over control of Vostochny Bank.
In a statement on February 17, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow expressed hope “this will be a fair and transparent judicial process that concludes with justice for Mr. Calvey.”
“The criminalization of commercial disputes casts a pall on the business climate and serves as a disincentive to foreign investment in Russia,” it added.
Russia's Supreme Court in November 2020 eased the detention terms for the seven businessmen, ruling that they may not leave their homes between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., communicate with other suspects in places other than the courtroom, send or receive mail, or use telephones unless it's an emergency.
The case has rattled Russia’s business community and prompted several prominent officials and businessmen to voice concerns about the treatment of the executives.
Baring Vostok is one of the largest and oldest private-equity firms operating in Russia. It was founded in the early 1990s and manages more than $3.7 billion in assets. The company was an early major investor in Yandex, Russia's dominant search engine.
Calvey is one of three Americans currently held in Russia on charges supporters say are groundless.
Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years on espionage charges, which he has vehemently rejected.
Another former U.S. Marine, Trevor Reed, was sentenced to nine years in prison in late July 2020 after a Moscow court found him guilty of assaulting two police officers, a charge that he refused to admit.