Russian businessman and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov was arrested by French police at Nice airport on Monday evening , November 20, in alleged tax evasion case, an official at the French prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.
Kerimov is ranked by Forbes magazine as Russia’s 21st wealthiest businessman, with a net worth of $6.3 billion(£4.75 billion). His family controls Russia’s largest gold producer Polyus.
A source said the investigation focuses on the purchase of several luxury residences at French Riviera via shell companies, something that would have enabled Kerimov to reduce taxes to the French state.
The source added Kerimov would be held in custody for at least another 24 hours.
Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that Kerimov held a diplomatic passport and had immunity. It said it had informed the French authorities.
“Kerimov does have a diplomatic passport, but that does not protect him from prosecution,” the French official said.
The French foreign ministry could not immediately confirm it had been in contact with Moscow.