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Russian tycoon facing three years in jail

Eccentric Russian tycoon Sergei Polonsky faces up to three years in prison if convicted of intentional violence and illegal detention, following alleged violence on a boat near Sihanoukville on December 29, his lawyer said yesterday.

Soung Khunvireakboth, who has been appointed to represent Polonsky and two other men, musician Alexander Karachinsky, 25, and Konstantin Baglay, 25, said the provincial court had charged his clients and they would apply for bail once an investigation was over.

“The investigating judge has not conducted investigation into this case yet, so [Polonsky] cannot do anything right now,” Khunvireakboth said.

The three men were arrested on December 30, accused of threatening the crew of a hired boat with a knife, locking one of them in a bathroom and forcing them to jump into the sea near an island Polonsky has been linked to.

Khunvireakboth said all three men had been charged with intentional violence and illegal detention – offences he considered minor.

“They’re not serious criminal offences,” he said.

Polonsky, who had headed property firm Mirax Group until its collapse in 2011, has been under scrutiny for his business dealings.

Fred Harrison, from London advisory firm Wellington International, said he was representing 266 people who had put “a wad of cash” into luxury apartments Polonsky promised to build in Moscow but never did.

“They’re screwed and unhappy,” he said.

Polonsky had also been involved in a project that had collapsed in London and members of Mirax, were being investigated by the Russian government, Harrison said.

The investors want the Russian government to bring a collective claim against the tycoon and have him extradited back home.

Tan Nareth, deputy director of Preah Sihanouk prison, said he had not yet been told to prepare the three men for questioning and they remained in a room with several Cambodian prisoners.

The investigating judge, Sar Lina, could not be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at sokha.cheang@phnompenhpost.com
With assistance from Shane Worrell

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