Accused of dodgy dealing, the businessman was locked up in the notorious Matrosskaya Tishina prison, on the outskirts of the Russian capital, within days. After months of appeals he was released, first to house arrest in his upmarket residential building and, later, he was allowed to go out subject to curfew rules. Despite that, Calvey’s life has gone from business meetings and investment opportunities to legal proceedings and the ever-looming threat of jail time. Now, that two-and-a-half-year-long battle might be coming to a head, and his team expects to hear a verdict on Monday.
Along with three other executives from Baring Vostok, the $3.7-billion investment firm he founded, Calvey is facing charges of embezzlement and fraud. Prosecutors claim he was at the center of a scheme to pocket 2.5 billion rubles (US$34.3 million) from Russia’s Vostochny Bank as part of a high-stakes transaction, with officials claiming Calvey and his associates had overestimated the value of an asset as part of a loan scheme. The authorities are seeking a six-year suspended prison sentence, while the businessmen insist that they are innocent and the charges have been trumped up by corporate rivals.
In his final remarks in court last month, Calvey said that “the evidence that the prosecution presented to the court and that was examined during the trial not only does not incriminate me in any crime, but confirms my innocence and the innocence of my colleagues.” According to him and his lawyers, official appraisals show that there was no fudging of the figures and that they’ve only ever been honest and transparent in their multi-billion dollar transactions.
The trouble started, they said, when their firm became embroiled in a legal dispute with Vostochny Bank, owned by high-powered businessman Artem Avetisyan. The tycoon had previously been appointed head of the new business divisionat the Agency for Strategic Initatives, chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Baring Vostok brought the case against the investment fund in a British court, claiming hundreds of million dollars in damages over the alleged stripping of assets from a jointly-owned company. The arrests, Calvey and his fellow executives say, were designed to prevent them from effectively trying the case in London.