Russian lawmaker detained in France in tax fraud case

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The Kremlin has vowed to defend billionaire senator Suleiman Kerimov, arrested on suspicion of money laundering and tax fraud in France.

Tycoon Suleiman Kerimov watches a soccer match between Anzhi and Spartak in Moscow on April 22, 2012. He was also ordered to post a bail of five million euros ($5.9 million) and to check in with police several times per week.

Since 2008, he has represented Dagestan as a senator in the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament. Polyus declined to comment. But the French Foreign Ministry has said it is up to the judge in the case to decide whether Kerimov will be protected by his diplomatic status.

Russia's state-run Rossiya 24 TV station, citing an unnamed source, reported that Kerimov had denied any guilt.

"I confirm that (the charg d'affaires Paul-Bertrand Barets) was summoned", the Russian Foreign Ministry's press service told AFP today.

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Forbes magazine listed Kerimov as Russia's 21st richest person with a net worth of about $6.7 billion.

Until previous year, he owned the football club, Anzhi Makhachkala, which became famous for big-money signings of stars including the Cameroonian striker, Samuel Eto'o.

Kerimov was detained upon arrival at the airport on Monday, where he faced two days of questioning over alleged tax evasion involving the purchase of luxury properties.

The French authorities reportedly suspect him of purchasing real estate in the French Riviera through shell companies to avoid paying taxes.

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