Fugitive Polonsky Arrested, Facing Deportation

Fugitive Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky is facing possible deportation after he was arrested on Koh Damlong island off the coast of Sihanoukville on Friday for overstaying his visa, officials said.

Along with five of his associates, Mr. Polonsky—who is facing multimillion dollar embezzlement charges in Russia—was arrested on his private island by military po­lice, according to National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy.

Sergei Polonsky is escorted down a flight of stairs by military police in Sihanoukville following his arrest Friday on an island off the coast, in a photograph supplied by the local news website Fresh News.
Sergei Polonsky is escorted down a flight of stairs by military police in Sihanoukville following his arrest Friday on an island off the coast, in a photograph supplied by the local news website Fresh News.

“We arrested Polonsky on Koh Damlong at around 4 p.m. and we sent him to Preah Sihanouk provincial police,” said Mr. Hy.

In a photograph provided by police, Mr. Polonsky is seen being escorted onto a helicopter in Siha­noukville. Uk Heisela, chief of in­vestigations at the Interior Min­is­try’s general immigration department, said the 42-year-old Russian landed in Phnom Penh Friday evening.

“Polonsky and his associates arrived at the general department of immigration at around 6 p.m.,” he said.

Major General Heisela said the men were arrested in relation to expired visas. “Polonsky’s visa expired two years ago,” he said.

However, in a later interview, Maj. Gen. Heisela said police still needed to check the passports of the detained Russians before deciding whether to deport them.

“If we find out their visas have expired, in at least one week’s time we will deport them,” he said. “I am waiting to check their passports, because when they were ar­rested they did not have their passports.”

Among those with Mr. Polon­sky at the time of his arrest was his lawyer, Kaspars Ceko­tins. The identities of the other arrested men could not be confirmed Friday.

Benson Samay, another of Mr. Polonsky’s lawyers, said his client had a valid visa, and was actually arrested due to an extradition re­quest from Moscow.

“I suspect his arrest was in­volved with the extradition case. It is not reasonable that his arrest was due to an expired visa, be­cause his visa was done on Oc­tober 31, 2014, and it will expire on November 6, 2015,” Mr. Samay said.

In July 2013, the Russian Interior Ministry charged Mr. Polonsky with embezzling millions of dollars from investors in two Moscow residential developments. He was subsequently placed on Interpol’s most-wanted list.

Both the Appeal Court and Su­preme Court in Cambodia have turned down requests from Mos­cow to send him home to stand trial. However, it emerged in March that Cambodia and Russia had begun drafting an official ex­tradition treaty, which Russian news outlets reported was aimed at se­curing the return of Mr. Polonsky.

Chin Malin, undersecretary of state at the Justice Ministry, said Friday that the agreement was “two-thirds” complete.

“We hope that we will finish it soon,” he said.

However, Mr. Malin stressed that the arrest of Mr. Polonsky was not carried out in relation to the ex­tradition treaty being reviewed by the ministry.

“He was under review by the immigration department,” Mr. Malin said. “If the immigration de­partment finds out that any among them are here illegally, they will face deportation.”

This is the third time Mr. Po­lon­sky has been arrested by Cam­bo­dian authorities. In Novem­ber 2013, he spent several hours evading arrest before being jailed to await extradition to Russia—a fate he managed to avoid. He was also jailed in January 2013 after allegedly forcing six Cambodians to jump off a boat at knifepoint.

Mr. Polonsky has also been embroiled in a high-profile legal dispute with his former business partner, Nikolai Doroshenko, who was recently jailed himself for twice failing to appear in court for questioning over fraud allegations related to their dispute.

Mr. Polonsky’s press secretary, Ilya Rosenfeld, declined to comment on the arrest Friday.

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