A Moscow court has placed billionaire businessman Ziyavudin Magomedov under arrest for two months after prosecutors accused him and two of his partners of embezzling billions of rubles in state funds.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement Saturday that Magomedov, co-owner of the Russian investment group Summa, was detained along with two partners, including his brother, Magomed Magomedov, and Artur Maksidov, the head of a company in the Summa group that was involved in construction of a soccer World Cup venue in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
The three suspects were taken Saturday to Moscow's Tverskoi district court, where a judge was expected to rule on whether to place them under formal arrest.
"The court has granted the motion of investigation that Ziyavudin Magomedov will be remanded into custody for two months, or until May 30," the judge said in reading out his ruling.
Summa Group said in a statement that it disagreed with the court ruling and "intends to appeal it, and is ready to cooperate with the investigators."
A prosecutor told the court at a hearing that the case entails seven instances "of embezzling from federal and regional budgets and from state-run companies."
"The stolen money is held in foreign accounts of offshore companies controlled by Magomedov," the investigator told the court, according to TASS.
A lawyer for Ziyavudin Magomedov asked for his client’s release on bail equivalent to the amount of losses, estimated by prosecutors at 2.5 billion rubles ($44 million) and said that the charges should be seen as a civil case and not a criminal case.
Magomedov is "quite a wealthy man and can repay these losses," Alexander Vershinin, another of the businessman's lawyers, was quoted by Interfax as telling the court.
Forbes magazine listed Ziyavudin Magomedov's fortune at $1.25 billion as of Saturday.
The U.S. Treasury Department in January listed him as one of 96 "oligarchs" close to President Vladimir Putin.
Magomedov's Caspian Venture Capital fund has investments in ride-hailing service Uber, Diamond Foundry, a company that produces man-made diamonds, and online leisure activities company Peek.
He is also co-executive chairman of Los Angeles-based tech firm Virgin Hyperloop One, which is chaired by Richard Branson. The firm is one of several developing a futuristic transport system that involves propelling people at high speed through sealed tubes.
He also is a co-owner of the Novorossiisk Commercial Sea Port with Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft and transportation group Fesco.