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Polonsky to ‘fight’ extradition plans

Sergei Polonsky is escorted by police following his arrest in Preah Sihanouk province
Sergei Polonsky is escorted by police following his arrest in Preah Sihanouk province on Monday. The Russian tycoon was transferred to Phnom Penh yesterday. STRINGER

Polonsky to ‘fight’ extradition plans

An adviser to Russian tycoon Sergei Polonsky said yesterday that the businessman’s legal team will fight his extradition to his homeland, where he is wanted on embezzlement charges.

The adviser, who asked not to be named, said the 40-year-old’s business plans for Cambodia – worth hundreds of millions – would be jeopardised if he was sent back to Moscow following his arrest on Monday.

“Polonsky wants to live in Cambodia forever. He has even built his own stupa on Koh Dek Koul – he will die in Cambodia” the man said, adding that the eccentric tycoon owned as many as eight islands in the Kingdom’s waters. “He wants to develop Cambodia … If he’s sent back, his projects will have problems.”

After Polonsky’s first arrest, in late December, he wrote an open letter to King Norodom Sihamoni outlining his plans to “build a seven-star hotel and a green zone in the archipelago not far from Sihanoukville”.

Government officials contacted yesterday could provide no details of islands other than Koh Dek Koul that Polonsky owned.

Authorities said yesterday they intended to send Polonsky back to Russia to face charges over the $176 million development project, despite an impending court case against him here, stemming from alleged violence at sea in late December.

A statement on the National Police’s website yesterday said that “at the request of the government in Moscow, the suspect … will be sent to Moscow soon”.

Other officials would not confirm when this would happen, but Khieu Sopheak, a Ministry of Interior spokesman, said he hoped the extradition could occur “quickly”.

Y Sok Khy, director of the anti-terrorism police at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday that arresting Polonsky on Koh Rong – which is close to his own private island – had not been a straightforward task.

“Polonsky knew in advance that we were coming, so he tried to hide and run from us,” he said. “It’s an island, though, so we were pretty sure we were going to catch him.”

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