MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky said on Friday a Brazilian court’s order to arrest him on money laundering charges was part of the Kremlin’s “politicized campaign” against him.
On Thursday, a Brazilian judge ordered the overseas arrests of Berezovsky, Nojan Bedroud and Kia Joorabchian linked to one of Brazil’s most popular soccer clubs Corinthians.
“I have no doubt that the Brazilian story is an extension of the Kremlin’s politicized campaign against me,” London-based Berezovsky said in a statement.
Berezovsky was a prominent businessman in Russia in the mid- and late-1990s and a Kremlin insider under first post-Soviet president, Boris Yeltsin. But he fled to London in 2000 and has become a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.
“Russia is using all means at its disposal, including pressure on other countries, to get Berezovsky handed over,” Berezovsky’s spokesman Alex Goldfarb told Reuters.
He added that the Brazilian arrest warrant was linked to Russian efforts to have the tycoon arrested so he can stand trial in Russia on charges of embezzlement and plotting a coup.
Brazilian authorities have said Berezovsky is an investor in the sports management group Media Sports Investments, or MSI, which was run in Brazil by Joorabchian.
MSI bought a majority stake in Corinthians in 2004, but its authority was later challenged by longtime Brazilian directors of the club.
The Brazilian court also ordered four Brazilian directors of the club to testify about alleged money laundering and international transfers of soccer players next month.
Corinthians and MSI denied the charges on Thursday and said they obeyed all laws.
Berezovsky also denied the charges on Friday: “I am not involved in money laundering.”