Sat, 21 Sep 2019

A Moscow court has ruled that French banker Philippe Delpal can be transferred from pretrial detention to house arrest pending trial on fraud charges, while the head of his company, U.S. investor Michael Calvey, was denied a request to be released from house arrest.

The Moscow City Court on August 15 said Delpal, a partner at the Russia-based private-equity group Baring Vostok, would be held under house arrest until October 13. In a separate hearing that followed, it rejected Calvey's request, ordering him to remain under house arrest until the same date as Delpal.

Delpal, Calvey, and several other executives and employees of the firm were detained in Moscow in February and charged with financial fraud.

They all deny any wrongdoing and say the case is being used against them in a corporate dispute over the control of a Russian bank. Calvey was released to house arrest in April and had hoped to win more freedom in court on August 15.

The arrests stunned many Western investors and drew complaints from high-level Russian business leaders and government officials, who questioned the motivations of the courts and prosecutors.

In an interview aired by state-supported RT television on June 3, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lamented what he called a 'very unfortunate' situation, referring to Calvey by his first name and saying that the Kremlin knew him as a 'very trustful businessman' who has been 'devoted to the Russian market.'

But he said that the law must be obeyed and claimed that the Kremlin will not intervene.

Baring Vostok is one of the largest and oldest private-equity firms operating in Russia since the early 1990s, managing more than $3.7 billion in assets. The company was an early major investor in Yandex, Russia's dominant search engine.

Calvey is one of two Americans currently facing potential trial in Russia on charges supporters say are groundless. Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, has been behind bars since December 28, when he was arrested on an espionage charge he denies.

In May, a Moscow court extended Whelan's pretrial detention to August 29. Whelan has called the case politically motivated and revenge for U.S. sanctions against Russia.

With reporting by TASS and RIA Novosti

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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