A French judge has placed Russian businessman and parliament member Suleiman Kerimov under formal judicial investigation, charging him with tax evasion. A source told French news agency AFP that he was suspected of laundering "tens of millions of euros" hidden away from tax authorities.
Moscow is taking "all necessary steps" to protect Russian upper house lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov and will continue to do so, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that the Senator is also "protecting his interests himself".
"Certainly, it is noteworthy that Suleiman Kerimov is the holder of a diplomatic passport, with which he entered France".
If charged and convicted, Kerimov, who is worth an estimated $7.4 billion according to Forbes magazine, might face up to 10 years in prison.
A regular visitor to France's Cote d'Azur, he has owned stakes at various times in Russian energy, banking and mining giants such as Gazprom, Sberbank and potash producer Uralkali.
Russia protests arrest of billionaire playboy Suleiman Kerimov on suspicion of French Riviera tax fraud
The Swiss businessman said he would win the case, RBC reported.
Until a year ago, he owned the football club, Anzhi Makhachkala, which became famous for big-money signings of stars including the Cameroonian striker, Samuel Eto'o.
But after losing a significant part of his fortune, he sold most of his shares in the club.
Kerimov, who is among the richest people in Russian Federation, was snatched by French law enforcement after arriving in Nice on Monday night.
Kerimov, 51, one of Russia's richest men, was arrested late on Monday night in Nice, southern France and then released under strict conditions, the BBC reported.