Founder of the Baring Vostok investment fund Michael Calvey looks through a cage's class in the court room in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. A Moscow court has ordered Baring Vostok's founder Michael Calvey to be kept in custody until April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

US embassy urges Russia to allow visit to jailed US investor

February 21, 2019 - 11:29 am

MOSCOW (AP) — The United States Embassy in Moscow has called on Russian authorities to allow its staff to visit a U.S. 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 U.S. Embassy said in a statement on Thursday that its staff has still not been able to visit Calvey in the seven days since he was detained despite making 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 Russian Direct Investment Fund, a sovereign wealth fund tasked with working alongside foreign businesses, intervened in Calvey's case Thursday. The fund asked the court to release Calvey and the other suspects from jail and instead put them under house arrest.

CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in a statement he provided "personal guarantees" Calvey and the others wouldn't flee Russia.

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 on Thursday 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 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 Thursday, adding that he believed the investment climate won't suffer. "Russia has been committed to creating a maximally favorable 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.

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