MOSCOW (AP) – The United States (US) Embassy in Moscow has called on Russian authorities to allow its staff to visit a US investment fund manager who has been jailed pending a fraud investigation.
Michael Calvey, founder and senior partner at the Baring Vostok equity firm, was detained last week and jailed for two months pending the investigation into suspected embezzlement. The arrest of a respected investment manager who has worked in Russia for 25 years has sent shockwaves through the Russian business community.
The US Embassy said in a statement yesterday that its staff has still not been able to visit Calvey seven days after he was detained despite multiple requests. Four days is the typical limit.
“We have expressed our strong concern about this delay through diplomatic channels,” the embassy said in a statement. “We insist on access now.”
The case against Calvey and five other people springs from a business dispute among shareholders of Russia’s Vostochny Bank.
Russian businessman Sherzod Yusupov, who made the complaint which sparked the investigation, has alleged fellow shareholder Baring Vostok had overvalued shares in another company which were transferred to cover a debt and misrepresented restrictions on those shares.
Calvey’s lawyer told the RIA Novosti state news agency yesterday that his client had been formally charged with fraud and that he was researching his legal position before giving testimony.
In a state-of-the-nation address on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin complained businesses were often put under unnecessary pressure by Russian law enforcement, but didn’t mention the Baring Vostok case. Honest businesses, Putin said, should not “constantly feel the risk” they could be pursued through the courts.
“We have no doubt that the investigation will determine the truth,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said yesterday, adding that he believed the investment climate won’t suffer. “Russia has been committed to creating a maximally favourable climate for foreign investors.”
Calvey and Baring Vostok have attracted influential supporters including Russia’s business ombudsman, Boris Titov, who wrote to Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika asking him to look at whether the decision to place Calvey and other suspects in custody conformed to the law.