Sergei Polonsky, the flamboyant Russian businessman once jailed in Cambodia for allegedly threatening a group of boatmen with a knife, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in a Moscow court yesterday for embezzlement, but was immediately released because the statute of limitations for his crime had expired, according to Russian media outlets.
The fugitive tycoon was charged with financial fraud relating to a real estate scheme in Russia and had fled to Cambodia before being deported in May 2015. The Presnensky District Court of Moscow convicted him yesterday of large-scale embezzlement to the tune of $43 million and sentenced him to five years in prison, less than the prosecution’s requested eight years with a $15,000 fine.
“[The court rules to] sentence Polonsky to five years in a general regime penal colony on several counts, and free him from penalty due to the expiration of the statute of limitations and release him from custody in the courtroom,” Judge Yevgeny Naydenov was quoted as saying by Russian outlet TASS.
Polonsky lived a lavish lifestyle on two islands off the coast of Sihanoukville – Koh Dek Koul and Koh Damlong – and was notable for his ill-fated attempts to bring to Cambodia the Russian music festival KaZantip, which was ultimately thwarted by authorities.
He also waged a legal battle with arch-rival and former business partner Nikolai Doroshenko, with whom he had a falling out over plans to develop resorts on Cambodian islands.