Cambodian authorities are planning to arrest former billionaire Sergei Polonsky—currently residing on an island off the coast of Sihanoukville—and extradite him to his native Russia to face multimillion-dollar embezzlement charges, a senior police official said Tuesday.
“We will arrest him soon,” National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Kirth Chantharith said.
“The Russian government already sent a letter to our government…we will arrest him,” Lt. Gen. Chantharith said, adding that Lieutenant General Keo Vanthan, head of Cambodia’s Interpol office, will handle the operation.
“I don’t think it [will be] difficult,” he added.
Lt. Gen. Vanthan declined to comment Tuesday.
Mr. Polonsky—who was charged in absentia in July for his role in embezzling more than $175 million from some 80 investors in a Moscow development project—was also yesterday added to Interpol’s “red list” of wanted criminals, nearly three months after a Russian court issued a warrant for his arrest.
According to Interpol’s website, Mr. Polonsky is “wanted by judicial authorities of Russia for prosecution” in relation to “large scale fraud.”
Once one of the richest men in Russia, Mr. Polonsky also served three months in prison in Cambodia after the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court in January charged him, along with two other Russians, with assault for allegedly forcing six Cambodians from a boat at knifepoint off the coast of Sihanoukville on December 30.
During an interview on his private island, Koh Dek Kuol, on October 18, Mr. Polonsky told reporters that both the embezzlement and assault charges he faces were engineered by former Russian partners of his real estate firm Mirax Group, since renamed Potok, seeking to rob him off his wealth.
“If Interpol takes me, Interpol f—s me,” he said at the time.
Mr. Polonsky on Tuesday declined to comment on his new official status as a fugitive, but seemed unfazed by the news.
“We sit in the sunset,” he said by telephone from Koh Dek Kuol.
At about 4 p.m. Mr. Polonsky posted on his personal Twitter account the words “Abracadabra BOOM” with a link to an Internet page displaying a screenshot of his face on Interpol’s website.
Ros Sitha, one of Mr. Polonsky’s lawyers, said that despite the impending arrest, hope was not lost.
“Now we have a lot of ways to help him, but these are dark ways, I cannot tell you,” Mr. Sitha said, adding that he was set to hold an emergency meeting last night with representatives of his client.
“Tonight, some Russians assistants of Mr. Polonsky come to meet me in my home,” he said.
Mr. Polonsky’s personal assistant, Olga Sevcuic, said that her employer had done himself no favors by regularly using social media to proclaim his innocence, drawing attention to his extravagant lifestyle.
“He [is] still trying to live like a billionaire,” she said.
“When all this happened, he was still trying to live like he had this money. Maybe he didn’t want to believe that he did not.”