US-born businessman arrested in Russia for multimillion-dollar fraud

A St. Petersburg court has detained a US-born businessman on suspicion of large-scale fraud. August Meyer is a co-owner of Russia’s third-largest cosmetics chain, Rive Gauche, and e-commerce site Ulmart.

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Vladimir Potanin © REUTERS / Sergei Karpukhin
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Meyer – one of the most prominent foreign investors in Russia – is being investigated on two counts of fraud involving loans from Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank, worth 2.4 billion rubles ($31 million).

The funds were provided to Ulmart just weeks before the internet trading firm was declared bankrupt at the start of 2020. One of the company’s co-founders also faces charges of fraud worth more than $13 million.

The St. Petersburg court’s press service shared videos from Wednesday’s hearing at the courtroom via its Telegram channel, showing Meyer speaking English and saying that he is a citizen of Russia, Malta and Saint Kitts and Nevis. Meyer was born in Chicago, but said he gave up his US citizenship.

Meyer has been placed under a two-month arrest, until February 7, 2022. His lawyers sought a bail of 5 million rubles ($68,000) but the court rejected it. The businessman denies any guilt. Meyer’s wife, Inna, was also detained as part of the case.

According to Forbes, Meyer is number 181 in its list of 200 of the wealthiest businessmen in Russia, with a net worth of $650 million.

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