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10 Sep, 2009 19:43

Runaway cell-phone tycoon arrested, released on bail in UK

A British court has confirmed fugitive Russian businessman Evgeny Chichvarkin, arrested in London on Monday, has paid over $160,000 bail for his release.

It’s also reported that the hearings into the extradition of the former head of major Russian cell phone retailer, Euroset, are due to start on September 22.

"Former Euroset owner Chichvarkin was detained in London on September 7, by request of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office. He faced Westminster Court on the same day, and was released on bail pending extradition hearings," said Andrey Nesterenko, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

"Hopefully, the traditional attempt to present a suspected felon sought by Russia as another victim of political persecution will not be made this time," he added.

Meanwhile, the businessman’s Russian lawyer Yury Gervis told Interfax news agency that his client "has been free and still is free."

He refused to give further comments, saying that Chichvarkin's interests in the British court are represented by British lawyers.

The billionaire has been on Russia’s most-wanted list since January.

Chichvarkin is accused of involvement in the abduction of the firm’s shipping agent, who had allegedly stolen large quantities of phones. Prosecutors also added a charge of involvement in extortion.

If tried and convicted, Chichvarkin, who celebrates his 35th birthday on Thursday, faces up to 20 years in prison.

In January, the businessman fled to Great Britain shortly before charges against him were pressed. In August, Russian authorities asked Interpol to put him on the international wanted list.