Polonsky Could Be Allowed to Return in Five Years: Official

Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky, who was deported to Moscow last month to face trial on serious fraud charges, could be allowed to return to Cambodia in five years’ time, an immigration official said Sunday.

Mr. Polonsky, 42, who had been developing a string of islands off the coast of Sihanoukville, was arrested on the afternoon of May 16 on one of those islands, Koh Damlong, along with five associates.

Two days later, he was deported to Moscow and, according to Russian media, immediately imprisoned.

At the time of his arrest, Cambodian officials said the eccentric former billionaire was apprehended for having overstayed his visa. They later claimed he had been arrested for threatening “national security” by establishing an illegal bodyguard unit, but ultimately deported for not having a passport.

Mr. Polonsky’s public relations team said his arrest and deportation were the result of a “secret deal” between Cambodia and Russia.

Contacted Sunday, Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s general department of immigration, said Mr. Polonsky’s deportation was sufficient punishment for his crimes, and that the Russian could potentially return to Cambodia—if deemed valuable to the country, and contrite.

“The immigration department has to find out whether this individual…is important to the country or not, and whether he learned a lesson or not,” Mr. Heisela said, adding that Mr. Polonsky would also have to submit a request to return to the Russian Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Asked when Mr. Polonsky might be allowed to come back, Mr. Heisela said: “I think it will be at least five years.”

Benson Samay, Mr. Polonsky’s Cambodian lawyer, could not be reached Sunday. Following his client’s deportation, Mr. Samay said he was no longer being kept informed about his client’s case.

Mr. Heisela also said Sunday that on top of not having a passport and arming and training a group of men “like commandos,” Mr. Polonsky had also caused offense by taking photos of himself in the nude.

“I don’t know when these photos were found or where they were found; all of these photos were sent to me by police in Sihanoukville,” he said, explaining that the images had given authorities further grounds to arrest Mr. Polonsky, as they contravened Cambodian ethics.

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