Russia lets U.S. fund manager Michael Calvey out of prison, but the business community is rattled
- March 25, 2021
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Michael Calvey, a U.S. investment fund manager and partner at Baring Vostock, is facing charges of embezzlement in Moscow.After 2 months in prison, a Moscow court has agreed to let him move to house arrest in the Russian capital, pending his trial.His arrest, as a long-time member of the U.S. business community in Moscow, has rattled investors and CEOs.Moscow — A Russian court ruled on Thursday to release veteran American investment fund manager Michael Calvey from prison and place him under house arrest pending his trial on fraud charges. The move had been expected, a day after Russia’s federal Investigative Committee recommended the transition from jail to home.
Calvey, founder and senior partner at Baring Vostok equity firm, was taken into custody along with five other people, including two Baring Vostok managers, two months ago. Russian police have accused Calvey and his associates of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles ($37 million) from Vostochny Bank, of which Baring Vostok owns a controlling stake. Calvey has denied all allegations and insisted that his prosecution was the result of a protracted dispute between the bank’s various shareholders.
Speaking in court on Thursday, Calvey reiterated that his prosecution was the result of a corporate dispute that should be resolved in civil court. “We are talking about a business dispute that started long before my arrest. I can only regret that the other side of this dispute chose quite a bizarre way to defend their interests,” the businessman said.He added that proving his innocence was “a matter of reputation that I have been building my entire adult life. I am more interested in resolving this case than even my accusers.”Calvey assured the court he was not going to try and leave the country. “Fleeing is something guilty people do. For me, fleeing from Russia because of this case equals admitting guilt and destroying myself,” Calvey said.The businessman will now remain in his apartment in central Moscow. The judge denied the defense’s request to allow him two-hour daily walks and to shop for groceries himself. “Should we be here?”The U.S. business community in Russia was rattled by Calvey ending up behind bars. Media reports claimed CEOs of U.S. companies were planning to boycott the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia’s most prominent business conference. “The initial response was shock,” Alexis Rodzianko, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, told CBS News. “Each of us was suddenly worried: Should we be here?”For U.S. businesses and investors, Russia remains a strategic, important market; it is a wealthy country and still home to the largest single group of consumers in Europe.