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Jig is up for Polonsky

Fugitive Russian tycoon Sergei Polonsky
Fugitive Russian tycoon Sergei Polonsky is escorted to his flight by authorities yesterday morning at Phnom Penh International Airport. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Jig is up for Polonsky

Fugitive tycoon Sergei Polonsky was deported back to Russia yesterday morning, where he is wanted for allegedly scamming investors in his real estate projects, police have said.

Uk Heisela, director of the General Department of Immigration’s investigations department, said Polonsky left for Ho Chi Minh City at about 7:20am. From there, he was to be flown straight to Moscow.

“We sent him alone,” Heisela said. “Other Russians are having their [immigration] documents verified and are still being held at the Immigration Department, but they will also be deported later.”

According to Heisela, Polonsky would not be allowed to return to Cambodia.

He was arrested by military police along with five others on the Preah Sihanouk island of Koh Damlong on Friday afternoon over claims he was living on an expired visa for more than two years, a charge his lawyers have denied.

He was escorted by military helicopter to Phnom Penh immediately after his arrest.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the arrest of Polonsky was made after he breached the Immigration Law by overstaying his visa.

“We deport all foreigners who live illegally in Cambodia, not just Polonsky,” he said. “When their visa is expired it means they are illegal immigrants [who have to be deported].”

He did not comment on the timing of Polonsky’s arrest, which came just days after Russia lobbied the Foreign Ministry to expedite the former-billionaire’s departure. On Saturday afternoon, security forces searched the tycoon’s private resort island, Koh Dek Koul and detained more than 20 of his staff.

Sergei Polonsky boards a plane at the Phnom Penh International Airport
Sergei Polonsky boards a plane at the Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday after he was arrested over the weekend. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Fifteen foreigners and six Cambodians working for Polonsky were transported back to the mainland on Saturday at about 8pm, according to provincial police chief Choun Narin.

“We were not arresting them, but we tried to help them by bringing them back from the island since there was no longer any way for them to live on the island,” he said.

“There is a child among the 15 foreigners, and one of them [a Russian national] has a forged passport, so we are keeping him in detention. The rest have now left with their friends and families,” he said.

“We found they had tourist visas … except the one who had a fake passport.”

In July 2013, Russia charged Polonsky with embezzlement after it was alleged that he had cheated 80 investors in large Moscow developments out of about $173 million.

Cambodian courts have on more than one occasion turned down extradition requests from Russia, but in March it was revealed that Russia and Cambodia were working on an extradition treaty, which is expected to be finalised soon.

The deportation came as a court case against him and the complaints he filed against his Russian business partner, Nikolai Doroshenko, have yet to be concluded. Doroshenko was arrested on March 25 and is currently in jail awaiting trial.

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