PHNOM PENH Jan 5 Russian real estate tycoon Sergei Polonsky has been detained in Cambodia accused of assault and illegal detention after an incident on a boat, authorities in the Southeast Asian nation said on Saturday.
Polonsky, 40, who was worth $1.2 billion before the global financial crisis, was detained on Tuesday with two other Russians. Cambodian military police say they forced some crew to jump off a boat at knifepoint and one boatman was punched.
Cambodian police spokesman Kheng Tito said the three Russians were still being held and a prosecutor and an investigating judge were working on the case. Russian media had reported that Polonsky had been released.
"The victims said that they were locked up in a toilet and cabin and forced to jump off to swim back to an island, which meant that if they could not make it, they would be drowned," Kheng Tito said.
Kheng Tito said the boatmen were ferrying Polonsky from an island back to a popular seaside town in Preah Sihanouk on the mainland, about 225 km (140 miles) southwest of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
He said the three Russians were investors in a new island resort. Other details were unclear. Kheng Tito said one of the Russians had accused the boatmen of failing to follow Polonsky's instructions.
Polonsky's company, Mirax Group, experienced serious problems during the global financial crisis and has been reorganised under the name Potok.
The flamboyant tycoon is perhaps best known outside Russia for an incident in 2011 in which Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev threw a punch at him during a television talk show.
(Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Janet Lawrence)