Russian tycoon avoids extradition by Cambodia

PHNOM PENH - Cambodia's highest court on Friday rejected a request by Russia to extradite a tycoon accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars in a real estate scam.

The Supreme Court ruled that Sergei Polonsky, 41, could not be sent back to Russia because the two countries do not have an extradition treaty.

Polonsky was detained in Cambodia in November on an island off the southwestern city of Sihanoukville after a request by Russia, but freed by an appeals court in January.

In August, a Russian court ordered Polonsky's detention after he 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 faces a separate trial in Cambodia over allegations that he and two other Russians threatened a boat crew in the kingdom at knifepoint.

He was granted provisional release in April last year in that case after spending three months in prison in Cambodia, where he has business interests.

The outspoken tycoon's business was hit hard by the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, forcing him to abandon work on Moscow's Federation Tower, which he had hoped would become Europe's tallest building.