FBI denies report it arrested Russian tycoon Abramovich

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:48am EDT

Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich gives a thumbs-up before the Group D Euro 2012 soccer match between Ukraine and England at Donbass Arena in Donetsk June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich gives a thumbs-up before the Group D Euro 2012 soccer match between Ukraine and England at Donbass Arena in Donetsk June 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Nigel Roddis

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WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Federal Bureau of Investigation denied a report on Monday that it had detained Roman Abramovich, the Russian metals tycoon who owns London's Chelsea soccer club.

"We didn't arrest him. It's just not true," an FBI spokeswoman said in response to an unsourced report by Russia's RBK financial news portal that Abramovich had been held in the United States.

The RBK report followed media speculation over the unexplained death in Britain of exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who launched and lost a multi-billion-dollar court case last year against Abramovich, his former business partner.

Abramovich's Moscow spokesman, John Mann, said earlier that the report was false.

"He is in the U.S. but he has not been arrested or detained," Mann said.

Abramovich, 46, is a major shareholder in London-listed steel firm Evraz, whose shares fell by more than 6 percent before recovering to trade 3.4 percent down on the day.

The London-based tycoon is reputed to have close ties to the Kremlin. Forbes magazine estimates his fortune at $10.2 billion.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine in Moscow and David Ingram in Washington; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Angus MacSwan)

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