Arrest Warrent Issued for Russian Phone Millionaire
Published on: 30th January 2009
Russian oligarch, and co-founder of the huge Euroset mobile phone retailer has fled the country and arrived in the UK, following allegations of kidnapping and phone smuggling. According to the Guardian newspaper, the Russian police have now issued an international warrant for Chichvarkin's arrest.
Last September, police arrested four employees of the phone company, accusing them of kidnapping an employee, Andrei Vlaskin - who they suspected of stealing from the firm - and phone smuggling in a case which dated back to 2003. Chichvarkin was grilled by the General Prosecutor's Office Investigations Committee for over four hours following the arrest of the employees.
The other employees accused in the case, Yevroset vice president for security Boris Levin, his deputy Alexander Yermilin, security service staff Sergei Katorkin and Vitaly Tsverkunov are currently being held in a seperate section of a Moscow detention center because they are former state security officials.
Euroset co-founder, Timur Artemyev denied media reports at the time, that the company had engaged in smuggling phones without paying import duties - saying that as a large company it has no need to carry out such actions. In 2006, the company was however indirectly involved in a smuggling case, when a large batch of Motorola phones, containing some 167,000 basic phones were apparently smuggled into the country and then sold to the retailer.
Shortly after the employees were arrested, the two co-founders sold the phone retailer to fellow Oligarch, Alexander Mamut for US$400 million in cash (and US$850 million in debt). However the transaction was thought to be a holding action, as Mamut then sold half of the firm to mobile operator, VimpelCom within just a few weeks. The mobile network operator also has an option to take a further 25% of the company after three years.
Currently Euroset operates approximately 5,100 outlets in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Uzbekistan and Armenia. In 2007 the company's revenues reached $3.14 billion.
"A petition for the arrest of Yevgeny Chichvarkin will be considered on 28 January by Moscow's Basmanny court," said a spokeswoman for Moscow court service. A lawyer representing Chichvarkin, Yury Gervis, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as denying his client had anything to do with the kidnapping case.
Last night Chichvarkin was unavailable for comment.
On the web: The Guardian