Cambodia arrests Russian tycoon over alleged scam

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian authorities on Monday arrested a Russian tycoon wanted by Moscow over allegations he embezzled tens of millions of dollars in a real estate scam, a police spokesman said.

A Russian court in August ordered the detention of Sergei Polonsky, who was charged in absentia for his alleged role in a 5.7 billion rouble ($174 million) swindle which defrauded more than 80 investors.

Investigators have accused the businessman of orchestrating the scam linked to the construction of a housing complex in 2007-2008.

Polonsky was detained at an island off the coast of the southwestern city of Sihanoukville, national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith told AFP.

"We arrested him at the request from the Russian government because he committed crimes in Russia," he said, adding that Moscow wanted him extradited to face charges.

Cambodian authorities would send Polonsky to Russia soon, he said.

Property tycoon Polonsky, who is believed to have business interests in Cambodia, was previously detained on New Year's Eve in 2012 in Sihanoukville over accusations he and two other Russians threatened a boat crew at knifepoint.

He was granted provisional release in April after spending three months in a Cambodia prison.

Polonsky, 40, is an outspoken real estate tycoon whose extravagant behaviour and racy business slogans have repeatedly raised eyebrows in Russia.

His business nosedived after the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis, forcing him to abandon work on Moscow's Federation Tower which he hoped would become the tallest building in Europe.