- Sergei Pugachev found guilty of submitting false evidence
- Former senator fled to France in 2015, fearing for his safety
Former Russian senator Sergei Pugachev is facing jail after a British judge found him guilty of breaching a dozen court orders including failing to hand over travel documents and passwords to e-mail accounts.
Pugachev is subject to a $2 billion worldwide asset freeze following the collapse of International Industrial Bank, which he founded. He will be sentenced Thursday, Judge Vivien Rose said Monday during a hearing in London. Pugachev didn’t attend the hearing and is currently in France.
The former Putin ally and senator for the Tuva region on the border with Mongolia fled to France in early 2015, saying he had concerns over his safety, according to documents filed at the London High Court. He holds French citizenship and claims Russia stripped him of investments after he fell out of favor with the Kremlin. International Industrial Bank filed the lawsuit seeking to jail Pugachev as it attempts to recover funds it says he embezzled as the firm neared collapse in 2010.
Pugachev is an EU citizen accused of no crimes in the U.K. and "finds the court’s ruling concerning the use of his own private assets, including selling those assets where required and at his discretion, as being unacceptable,” said Dmitry Morochenko, a spokesman for Pugachev. “Pugachev considers that this court ruling confirms the abuse by the Russian state through the use of the U.K. courts."
The judge found Pugachev guilty of breaching 12 of 17 court orders, including giving false evidence and failing to account for two cars. He was cleared of breaching five orders, including removing the yacht ‘Victoria’ from the jurisdiction.
History suggests Pugachev’s committal could prompt a lengthy extradition battle as authorities seek to bring him to justice. Former BTA Bank Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov sparked an almost seven-year extradition fight after prosecutors in Kazakhstan issued an international arrest warrant in 2009, claiming he embezzled more than $5 billion from BTA.