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U.S. Investor Calvey, Six Co-Defendants Found Guilty Of Embezzlement By Russian Court

U.S. businessman Michael Calvey arrives to attend his court hearing in Moscow on August 5.
U.S. businessman Michael Calvey arrives to attend his court hearing in Moscow on August 5.

A Moscow court has found U.S. investor Michael Calvey and six co-defendants guilty of embezzlement in a high-profile case followed closely by the international business community.

The verdict should have been announced on August 2 but presiding judge Ana Sokova put it off to August 5 without giving any reason for the postponement.

Calvey, the founder of Russia-focused private equity group Baring Vostok, was detained along with other executives in early 2019 on charges he and the other executives deny.

Calvey was charged with embezzlement linked to mid-sized lender Vostochny along with his associate Philippe Delpal, who is a French national, and five others -- Russian citizens Vagan Abgaryan, Ivan Zyuzin, Maksim Vladimirov, Aleksei Kordichev, and Aleksandr Tsakunov.

The case went to trial on February 2, almost two years after their arrests.

All seven were declared guilty by the court of large-scale embezzlement.

The sentencing is still to come in the proceedings as Judge Sokova reads out the verdict.

In his final testimony, Calvey said on July 19 that he and his co-defendants had acted "solely within the law."

He said he believes the case is aimed at pressuring him and his associates from the Baring Vostok private equity group as part of a business dispute over control of Russia's Vostochny Bank.

The case has rattled the investment community in Russia and internationally and prompted several prominent officials and businessmen to voice concerns about the treatment of the executives.

The charges stem from a long-running dispute between Baring Vostok and Vostochny Bank shareholders.

Baring Vostok owned a 52.5 percent in the bank, and 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.

The prosecution has asked the court to find Calvey guilty and give him a six-year suspended prison term, adding that Delpal should receive a five-year suspended prison. The others, the prosecution said, should be given suspended prison terms of between four and five years.

Initially placed in pretrial detention, Calvey was subsequently put under house arrest instead.

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. It was an early major investor in Yandex, Russia's dominant search engine.

Calvey is one of several Americans currently being held in Russia on charges they and their supporters say are groundless.

Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was sentenced in June 2020 to 16 years on espionage charges that he has vehemently rejected.

Another former U.S. Marine, Trevor Reed, was sentenced to nine years in prison in July 2020 after a Moscow court found him guilty of assaulting two police officers.