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Search for Russian billionaire in Cyprus

Cyprus authorities fear a billionaire wanted by Russia on suspicion of embezzling company assets has crossed into the north after a paperwork oversight prevented his court-ordered deportation.

Dmitry Gerasimenko, 38, disappeared following his release from custody on Tuesday after an oversight by the Russian authorities led to the Attorney General’s office and Larnaca District Court stopping extradition proceedings.

It emerged that the Russian authorities had cancelled a warrant for Gerasimenko’s arrest for the specific embezzlement charges he had originally been arrested for.

Of Ukrainian origin but a Russian passport holder, Gerasimenko had been suspected of embezzling $65 million – between 2007 and 2009 – meant for his steel company Krasny Oktyabr.

Gerasimenko was arrested in connection to these charges at Larnaca Airport on December 15 after arriving in Cyprus from Milan.

However, Larnaca Court on Tuesday heard Russian authorities in the meantime had established the loan had been secured by the company’s previous owners, prompting them to withdraw the warrant.

New charges of theft by deception, abuse by a company director of the legitimate interests of business and abuse of trust against Gerasimenko had not been included in a November 29 notice, leading to the Attorney General’s office requesting the extradition proceedings in Cyprus be dropped.

Gerasimenko was subsequently taken off the stop-list and offered the return of his passport, along with €150,000 which he posted for bail.

He is now suspected of travelling using a false passport as, according to media sources, Gerasimenko has yet to pick up the passport he had handed into the local authorities.

As well as the large steel plant, Gerasimenko owns two basketball teams, Russia’s first division BC Krasny Oktyabr based in Volgograd, and Pallacanestro Cantu, an Italian team.

Gerasimenko is also well-known in his home country for his earlier career as a basketball player.

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