Russian investigators formally charged US investor Michael Calvey with fraud on Thursday following his controversial arrest, his lawyer said.
The founder of the multibillion-dollar Baring Vostok investment fund faces up to a decade in prison on charges that he participated in the embezzlement of $37 million. Five others were charged along with him.
Authorities believe the funds were embezzled from bank Vostochny Express, in which Baring Vostok holds an ownership stake of more than 50 percent.
Calvey has said in court that the charges against him are being used as an instrument in a shareholder dispute, insisting that he has done nothing wrong.
Several high-profile figures have spoken on behalf of Calvey, with Russia’s business ombudsman Boris Titov saying the case was a typical corporate dispute and calling his arrest illegal.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said, “We have no doubt that truth will prevail as a result of the investigation. Nobody but the court can pronounce Michael Calvey innocent,” he said.
“He has refused to admit his guilt or give any testimony” before consulting with his defence, lawyer Dmitry Kletochkin told Russian news agencies.
The US Embassy in Moscow is demanding access to Calvey.
“Seven days after his detention, the US embassy still has not received permission from Russian authorities to visit detained American citizen Michael Calvey,” the embassy said in a statement.
“Russia’s obligations under the Bilateral Consular Convention require them to provide consular access within four days,” the embassy said.
“We insist on access now.”
A Moscow court on Saturday ordered that Calvey remain in pretrial detention until April 13.
Russia’s sovereign wealth fund said it has asked the Russian court to put Calvey and other Baring Vostok executives under house arrest.
Baring Vostok describes itself as one of the largest investment firms in the former Soviet Union, with $3.7bn of committed capital. Calvey has been with the firm since its inception 25 years ago.
The company said in a statement said the claims against its employees have “no merit”.