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Billionaire Russian lawmaker under investigation in France

24 November 2017

"He is being held for questioning in a case related to laundering of tax fraud proceeds", an official at the prosecutor's office said on Tuesday. Kerimov sold Anzhi past year.

Moscow summoned a senior French diplomat on Monday over the arrest of Russian oligarch and senator Suleyman Kerimov in Nice in connection to a tax evasion case. A second person was also put under formal investigation.

Representatives for Kerimov could not immediately be reached for comment.

Russia's state-run Rossiya 24 TV station, citing an unnamed source, reported that Kerimov had denied any guilt. However, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that Kerimov's diplomatic immunity affects only his direct official powers.

"We have still not received from the French authorities any explanation of the reasons for the detention of our colleague", Kurbanov told parliament.

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Mr Kerimov's family controls Russia's largest gold producer, Polyus, and he has an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion (£4.7bn).

Shares in Polyus fell more than 3 percent in early trade in Moscow on Wednesday but then recovered some ground to close down 1.25 percent.

The billionaire previously controlled the region's Anzhi Makhachkala football club, which at one point topped the Russian league when he poured millions into buying players like Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto'o.

Kerimov was arrested upon his arrival at the French Riviera resort's airport on Monday night.

Billionaire Russian lawmaker under investigation in France