Former Anzhi owner Kerimov questioned in France for tax evasion

Suleiman Kerimov

November 23 – The former owner of Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala has reportedly been questioned for two days in France following his arrest on suspicion of tax evasion.

Billionaire lawmaker and businessman Suleiman Kerimov (pictured), a member of Russia’s upper House of Parliament, was detained at Nice airport on Monday and placed in custody, according to Nice prosecutor Jean-Michel Pretre.

Russia’s state-run television reported that Kerimov had denied any guilt and that there had been no explanation about his detention.

Kerimov bought Anzhi in 2011 and went on a massive investment spree before reining back his spending and selling the club last year. The so-called Anzhi project, to transform a side with little prior success from one of Russia’s poorest regions, into a European powerhouse happened almost overnight but just as quickly Kerimov, ranked by Forbes magazine as Russia’s 21st wealthiest businessman, took an axe to the club’s budgets.

The investigation is reported to involve the purchase of several luxury residences on the French Riviera via shell companies, something that would have enabled Kerimov to reduce taxes owed to the French government.  A source told French news agency AFP that he was suspected of laundering “tens of millions of euros” hidden away from tax authorities.

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