Russian property tycoon Sergei Polonsky will be prosecuted here on intentional violence charges before any possible extradition to Russia on fraud charges, Cambodian authorities said yesterday – but it remains unclear whether he’s even still in the Kingdom.
Russia’s Ministry of Interior announced on Friday that Polonsky had been charged in absentia with fraud over an alleged $176 million building venture that never went ahead.
But Keo Vanthan, director of Interpol Police at Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, said Polonsky’s criminal trial in Cambodia must take precedence.
“He has to face legal action in Cambodia,” he said. “We have communicated to Russian authorities that [Polonsky] has been arrested on charges of violence and must be prosecuted here.”
Polonsky, the owner of property company Mirax, was arrested on December 30 for allegedly threatening six boatmen with a knife and forcing them to jump overboard near his private island off Sihanoukville.
After the boatmen accepted $20,000 to drop the complaints in January, the investigating judge, Sar Lina, proceeded with the case, releasing Polonsky on bail in April with strict orders that he stay in Cambodia until his trial.
It has since been reported that Polonsky has travelled to Switzerland and Israel. But this remains unconfirmed, and Polonsky was last week updating his Facebook page from Siem Reap.
Vanthan said yesterday that Cambodian police received a request from Interpol in Russia to arrest Polonsky in January, but he was already in prison on separate charges.
Polonsky was charged in absentia on Friday with “fraud committed on a large scale”, Russia’s Ministry of Interior said.
Eighty stakeholders in a shared construction residential complex in Moscow were affected by the alleged $176 million fraud, it added.
According to an article in English newspaper The Independent, Polonsky’s failure to answer the summons “could now trigger an Interpol search warrant and demands that he is extradited to Russia”.
“Come to Moscow and check building before publish lie,” he tweeted in response to the story.
Lina, the judge in charge of Polonsky’s case at Preak Sihanouk Provincial Court, said she had finished investigating.
“It’s out of my hands [now]. Any decision about a date will be made by the court,” she said.
Lina and Polonsky’s lawyer, Kong Rady, declined to comment on Polonsky’s whereabouts.
“I don’t know anything about his case in Russia and even his case in Cambodia still has not progressed,” Rady said.
Asked via Twitter whether he was still in Cambodia, Polonsky replied to the Post: “I’m not going answer this question.”
He then said he believed his Cambodian case would be held by the “end of summer”.