Big Story 10

French court drops charges against Russian tycoon Kerimov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A French court has dropped all charges against Russian businessman and lawmaker Suleiman Kerimov, his lawyer, Nikita Sychev, told Reuters on Thursday.

Kerimov, whose family controls Russia’s largest gold producer Polyus, was arrested in connection to a tax evasion case in France in late 2017.

“The court has dropped all charges,” Sychev said. He declined to comment further.

The prosecutor confirmed the court in Aix-en-Provence had dropped the charges and said it was studying the possibility of appealing within five days.

Shares in Polyus jumped 7 percent in Moscow on Thursday after Interfax news agency reported, citing an unnamed source, that France dropped all claims against Kerimov and would return the businessman’s passport very soon.

Kerimov was detained at an airport of the French Riviera resort city of Nice in November. Russia’s state-run Rossiya 24 TV station, citing an unnamed source, reported at the time that Kerimov had denied any wrongdoing.

A lawyer for Swiss financier Alexander Studhalter - who had been put under formal investigation on suspicion of having helped Kerimov - said the court had also dropped charges against his client.

Reporting by Polina Devitt and Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Geert De Clercq