The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court has charged prominent Russian businessman Nikolai Doroshenko with breach of trust and ordered that he be detained for failing to hand over investment licenses for four islands off the coast of Sihanoukville to his longtime rival, fugitive oligarch Sergei Polonsky, according to court documents obtained earlier this month.
A police official said Monday that Mr. Doroshenko, 54, was in hiding.
The December 23 court decision follows a string of public and private disputes between the powerful Russians, including an exchange of court complaints in December over Mr. Doroshenko’s claim that Mr. Polonsky, 42—wanted in Russia on multimillion-dollar embezzlement charges—ordered a violent attack on him that left his son Ostap, 36, with a broken jaw.
“On March 18, 2013, Nikolai Doroshenko signed contracts to hand over the investment licenses for Koh Muoy, Koh Pi, Koh Damlong and Koh Pring to Sergey Yurievich Polonsky within three and a half months from the date of the signature,” says the decision, which is signed by deputy prosecutor Huot Vichet.
“But until now, Nikolai Doroshenko has not handed over the investment licenses,” it says, adding that Mr. Polonsky paid Mr. Doroshenko $1 million for taxes and other expenses incurred in developing the four islands.
“The above act is an offense: breach of trust,” it says. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to three years.
The decision concludes by ordering that Mr. Doroshenko be “placed in provisional detention…in order to prevent him from committing a new offense and to keep him for the court to take [further] legal action.”
Mr. Vichet, the deputy prosecutor, on Monday declined to comment on the case, referring questions to the director of the provincial court, Mong Monychakrya.
Judge Monychakrya said he could not recall the December 23 decision given the number of court documents with Mr. Doroshenko’s name on them.
“I can’t remember it,” he said. “There are many cases related to Nikolai Doroshenko.”
Benson Samay, a lawyer for Mr. Polonsky, said he had received a copy of the decision, but declined to comment on its contents. He said, however, that he had filed 12 complaints with the Preah Sihanouk court related to his client’s disputes with Mr. Doroshenko, including ones over “stolen property, the transferring of shares, and fake documents.”
Neither Mr. Doroshenko nor his lawyer, Sun Sam Ol, could be reached.
Both provincial police chief Cheng Kosal and his deputy, Kol Phally, said the court had not contacted police about the case.
But Mr. Phally, asked if he knew where Mr. Doroshenko was, said: “I don’t know. They are hiding from us,” declining to elaborate.
In an interview earlier this month, Mr. Polonsky’s press secretary, Ilya Rosenfeld, said he was confident that the breach-of-trust charge against Mr. Doroshenko would result in justice for his employer.
Mr. Rosenfeld also said he believed the ties between Mr. Doroshenko’s family and local authorities would not save him from prosecution.
“It’s not a matter of connections. One side is right, the other is not,” he said.
Mr. Doroshenko and his son, who own a number of properties in Sihanoukville, including the Snake House restaurant and menagerie, both hold Cambodian citizenship. Photos posted to the Facebook page of Ostap, a captain in the provincial immigration police force, show him driving exotic sports cars, displaying a variety of firearms and campaigning for the ruling CPP ahead of the 2013 national election.
In December, the elder Mr. Doroshenko’s lawyer, Mr. Sam Ol, said his client had urged the provincial court to enforce an injunction ordering Mr. Polonsky to be evicted from his private island, Koh Dek Koul. Mr. Polonsky refused to vacate the island, and local authorities never took any action.
(Additional reporting by Van Roeun)