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Moscow Court Orders American Financier Held In Custody Pending Trial

Michael Calvey attends a court hearing in Moscow on February 15.
Michael Calvey attends a court hearing in Moscow on February 15.

A Moscow court has sanctioned the arrest of a prominent American investment-fund manager who is accused of large-scale fraud.

The Basmanny district court on February 16 remanded Michael Calvey, founder of the Baring Vostok investment company, to custody until April 13 pending trial.

A defense lawyer told Interfax that Calvey would appeal the court's decision.

Calvey was detained in Moscow on February 14 along with three other Baring Vostok employees, former Vostochny Bank CEO Aleksei Kordichev, and PKB General Director Maksim Vladimirov. All six defendants have now been remanded to custody.

At the February 16 hearing, Calvey -- who denies any wrongdoing -- told the court that he would cooperate with the investigation and asked to be placed under house arrest.

Seated in a locked, glass-walled space inside the court room, Calvey told the court via his lawyer who translated his speech into Russian, "I'm not going to run."

The court, however, ruled that he should be confined under the same terms as the other defendants.

After the hearing, Ivan Melnikov, head of the Moscow public monitoring commission, said he had been informed that Calvey would be quarantined for a medical examination for a period which "by law is maximum 10 days."

Quarantined suspects are held in solitary confinement while they are examined by doctors and psychologists, Melnikov said.

The charges stem from a long-running dispute between Baring Vostok and Vostochny Bank shareholders. Baring Vostok owns 52.5 percent of the bank. Prosecutors accuse the defendants of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles ($37.5 million) by persuading Vostochny Bank shareholders to approve a share deal at an unrealistically low price.

Kirill Dmitriyev, head of Russia's sovereign-wealth fund, was quoted by Reuters as saying he would personally vouch for Calvey, saying that he and his team were highly professional and committed to ethical standards.

German Gref, head of Russia's Sberbank, said on February 15 that Calvey was "a decent and honorable man who has done much to bring investment into our country."

Bernard Sucher, a U.S. investor and entrepreneur who worked in Moscow for two decades, told RFE/RL that Calvey "helped pioneer private equity in Russia and is viewed around the world as its unofficial leader."

"He's a good man, and the news that he has been detained for any reason at all is astonishing," Sucher said.

Founded in 1994, Baring Vostok is one of the largest private-equity firms in Russia and the former Soviet Union, according to the firm's website. It manages more than $3.7 billion in assets. It is particularly active in the technology sector and owns a stake in the Yandex search engine.

Before founding Baring Vostok, Calvey worked for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Salomon Brothers. He is a member of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, D.C.

With reporting by Reuters, Meduza, RBK, and Interfax
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