Russia holds U.S.-born retail businessman with Maltese passport on embezzlement charge

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A St Petersburg court ordered the American-born co-owner of Russia’s Rive Gauche cosmetics high-street chain to be held in custody this week on charges of embezzling 2.4 billion roubles ($32.6 million), the court said.

August Meyer, who holds Russian citizenship and was a co-owner of the Ulmart online retailer, was detained on Wednesday with his wife Inna in St Petersburg.

He denies the charges and his lawyer said the allegations relate to an old business dispute, the court said.

Meyer addressed the court in English and his comments were translated into Russian through an interpreter.

Meyer has lived in Russia since 1999, no longer has U.S. citizenship and holds passports from Russia, Malta and Saint Kitts and Nevis, Interfax news agency reported.

Inna Meyer, who also denies allegations of embezzlement, was placed under house arrest, the court said.

Kommersant newspaper reported on Wednesday that the charges related to loans received from state lender Sberbank by the now-defunct Ulmart company.

Sberbank said in a statement that it was up to investigators to determine suspects and that the bank would continue to collect debts under a loan agreement.

Rive Gauche said the case had nothing to do with it and that it would not affect it in any way, the RBC daily reported.

Photo – A Russian policeman wearing a face mask stands guard outside the Moscow office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY

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