The arrest of fugitive Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky—who is currently being sought by Moscow authorities to face multimillion-dollar embezzlement charges—will take place in a matter of days, as soon as the Interior Ministry receives the necessary paperwork, senior officials said Thursday.
National Police spokesman Lieutenant General Kirth Chantharith said that while the Foreign Affairs and Justice ministries have received an official extradition request for Mr. Polonsky from Moscow, the Interior Ministry, which oversees the National Police, is still awaiting authorization to arrest him.
“When we receive a letter from the Ministry of Justice…we will take action,” Lt. Gen. Chantharith said, adding that though the arrest will not happen for “a few days,” any delay would give the businessman an opportunity to escape.
“We are worried…. I hope that [if] we can’t arrest him yet, [we can] watch him,” he said.
Justice Ministry spokesman Sam Pracheameanith declined to comment Thursday.
In July, a Moscow court charged Mr. Polonsky in absentia with embezzling $176 million from some 80 investors in an unfinished residential development named the Kutuzovskaya Mile. On Tuesday, Mr. Polonsky was added to Interpol’s list of most-wanted criminals for “large scale fraud.”
Once one of the richest men in Russia, Mr. Polonsky is currently residing on a tiny private island, Koh Dek Koul, off the coast of Sihanoukville.
According to the Russian Legal Information Agency, or Rapsi, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office Thursday confirmed that a request for Mr. Polonsky’s extradition had been sent to Cambodia.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak emphasized that the arrest of Mr. Polonsky is a priority because of the close ties between Cambodia and Russia.
“I hope that [there will be] a positive result…by the government, because we are longtime friends with Russia,” Lt. Gen. Sopheak said.
“My ministry has not received the paperwork, but the Russian ambassador has mentioned [Mr. Polonsky’s case] in an official talk with [Interior Minister] Sar Kheng,” he said, adding that the meeting took place about two weeks ago.
Neither Mr. Kheng nor officials at the Russian Embassy in Phnom Penh could be reached for comment.
Mr. Polonsky declined to comment on the subject of his impending arrest.
“For me, the question is where is my money and who controls my company?” Mr. Polonsky said by telephone.
During an interview on Koh Dek Koul last month, Mr. Polonsky blamed his legal troubles—including an assault charge for which he served three months in Preah Sihanouk provincial prison earlier this year—on former partners of his Mirax Group real estate firm, since renamed Potok.
Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Tak Vantha Thursday said he knew nothing about Mr. Polonsky’s case.
“I’m not familiar with this case and I did not receive [an arrest warrant] yet,” Mr. Vantha said.
Russian media reported that Mr. Polonsky has offered to sign a plea bargain in exchange for the revocation of his arrest warrant in Moscow.
According to The Moscow Times, Mr. Polonsky offered compensation of $12 million to the stakeholders who allegedly lost money in the Kutuzovskaya Mile.