Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov has been released by a French court on €40 million bail as an investigation continues into alleged massive tax fraud and money-laundering linked to the purchase of luxury villas on the Côte d’Azur. Citing a flight risk, prosecutors had asked for Kerimov to be detained as they continue their investigation.
Kerimov left the court surrounded by his own bodyguards, without making any comment. His arrest at Nice Airport last month provoked an angry response from President Vladimir Putin’s government. Kerimov represents the Caucasus Republic in the Russian Federation Council.
Kerimov is suspected of laundering money and evading millions of euros in taxes when he bought five villas on the Cap d’Antibes in another name. According to sources close to the investigation, a large portion of the payments were made in cash. A lower price was declared to the authorities in order to avoid taxes on the full amount.
Nice public prosecutor Jean-Michel Prêtre said the amount lost to the French treasury was between €500 and €750 million.
Four of the five villas were seized, the other was resold before the authorities could take it. Thirteen people have been charged during the investigation, which started in 2014.