Russia sentences US investor Calvey to reprieve
US investor Michael Calvey has been given a suspended five-and-a-half-year prison sentence after being convicted of embezzlement in a highly controversial case that rocked the Russian business community.
The star US investor was first arrested in February 2019 on charges relating to loans issued by a bank owned by its Baring Vostok fund in 2015.
His arrest and trial sparked an uproar in Russia’s investment and business community, with several leading Russian entrepreneurs and Kremlin insiders speaking out in support of his support. These included German Gref, CEO of Sberbank, and Kirill Dmitriev, director of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
Prosecutors had requested a six-year suspended sentence for Calvey.
Calvey’s colleague and French citizen Philippe Delpal was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
“The court came to the conclusion that the defendants can be reformed without being isolated from society,” Judge Anna Sokova said as she read the judgment on Friday evening.
The case has cast a shadow over Russia’s business community for more than two years and is seen as emblematic of the weak rule of law in Russia and the lack of investor protection.
Speaking outside the courtroom on Friday night, Calvey criticized the decision as “deeply unfair”.
The lawsuit and procedure have been heavily criticized. At one point, prosecutors argued that the lack of documentary evidence or witnesses testifying to Calvey’s guilt was a sign that skilled criminals were engaged in a successful cover-up.
The charges were linked to a botched acquisition deal between Vostochny Bank, controlled by Baring Vostok, and Finvision, controlled by Kremlin-linked investor Artem Avetisyan. Calvey accused Avetisyan of asset stripping before the merger, and Avetisyan responded by saying that Calvey’s Baring Vostok deliberately issued bad debts ahead of the merger which should be written off. These claims were the subject of international arbitration proceedings at the time of Calvey’s arrest and were ultimately settled out of court last year, with Baring Vostok paying $ 32 million in a deal binding them. not to admit their responsibility or their wrongdoing.
Baring Vostok is considered one of the most successful venture capital firms operating in Russia. He has invested nearly $ 3 billion directly in companies such as Yandex and Ozon. Tinkoff Bank founder Oleg Tinkov – who also worked with Calvey – said the US investor was responsible for the billions more dollars poured into Russian companies from abroad.
AFP contributed to the report.