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Polonsky escapes extradition

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Sergei Polonsky and his wife, Olga Deripasko, greet the press on Friday in Phnom Penh after the Supreme Court ruled he would not be extradited to face fraud charges in his native Russia. Heng Chivoan

Polonsky escapes extradition

RUSSIAN businessman Sergei Polonsky has won a bid to stay in Cambodia after the Supreme Court ruled today that he will not be extradited to face fraud charges in Russia.

Supreme Court Judge Kim Sothavy said today that the decision of the Court of Appeal in January not to extradite the businessman had been upheld.

“Cambodia and Russia do not have an extradition agreement, so we cannot send Mr Polonsky to Russia,” she said.

The property tycoon, who owns Koh Dek Koul, an island off the coast of Sihakoukville, faces charges related to an unfinished $176 million development project in Moscow.

In a separate case that has yet to be heard in Cambodia’s courts, Polonsky was arrested at sea in December, accused of being violent towards six boatmen during a cruise near his island.

Benson Samay, Polonsky’s lawyer, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision and said Polonsky would continue to work in development projects in Sihanoukville, including on "many islands".

“It’s difficult for Cambodia to find people like Polonsky, and Cambodia needs development, especially on the islands,” he said.

In a press conference, Polonsky said he was happy with the result as it meant he could stay in a “very interesting country” with “very good people” and suggested he had a “minimum $100 million” in development plans.

Authorities detained Polonsky in prison for more than three months over the violence at sea charges last year, before releasing him on bail on the condition he remain in the country. Despite this condition, he travelled to Israel in ensuing months.

After returning to the Kingdom, the businessman – reportedly a billionaire before the global financial crisis – was arrested again in November after Russia released a warrant for his arrest and his details were posted on Interpol’s website.

The Court of Appeal released him on bail in January after the decision was made to suspend his extradition. No date has been set for his trial in Cambodia.

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