MOSCOW, March 20 (RAPSI) – Russia’s business ombudsman Boris Titov maintains that the founder of Baring Vostok investment company, U.S. citizen Michael Calvey, who stands charged with 2.5-billion-ruble (about $40 million) embezzlement, must be freed from detention.

A restrictive measure of Calvey should be replaced to release on bail or another noncustodial one, he has told journalists during a news conference.

According to Titov, there are legal grounds to seek for the change of Baring Vostok founder’s restrictive measure.

On February 16, Moscow’s Basmanny District Court ordered detention of Calvey until April 13. The court refused to release Baring Vostok founder on a 5-million-ruble bail ($80,000) or put him under house arrest despite his willingness to cooperate with investigators.

On February 15, the court detained for two months five other defendants including Baring Vostok Industry Partner for the financial industry sector, French citizen Philippe Delpal, the company’s partners Vagan Abgaryan, Baring Vostok Investment Director Ivan Zyuzin, Maxim Vladimirov and ex- chairman of Vostochny bank board Alexey Kordichev. Delpal pleaded not guilty in court and refused to cooperate with investigators.

According to investigation, Calvey knowing about a 2.5-billion-ruble debt of the First Collector Bureau, a firm under his control, has organized the sale of its shares to Vostochny bank that has led to embezzlement.

The Investigative Committee claims that the defendant committed a crime that could not be classified as business crime because he used a chain of sham companies settling the deal. Moreover, investigators say they have a PricewaterhouseCoopers’ audit report on the done deal estimating the sold shares at 600,000 rubles, which indicates an instance of fraud.

Calvey denies allegations insisting that the deal was fair as both companies agreed its terms and stood for it, including a person reporting an alleged crime to law enforcement bodies. He noted that a report has been filed with police by a member of Vostochny bank board of directors Sherzod Yusupov. According to Calvey, the real reason of his prosecution is a wide corporate dispute related to the control of the bank by two groups of shareholders: Baring Vostok and stockholders coming from Uniastrum bank, which was reorganized and joined to Vostochny in early 2017.

Baring Vostok company founded by Calvey in 1994 focuses on private equity investments in the CIS and Russia. The company has invested in shares of Yandex, Vkusvill, Tinkoff Bank and other major projects.