Russian businessman hauled from Cambodian jungle, awaiting extradition to Russia


Russian tycoon Sergei Polonsky (C) walks along with police officers after his arrest in Sihanoukville, southern Cambodia, on November 11, 2013.



MOSCOW, Russia — It’s not every day an eccentric Russian real estate magnate is hauled out of a Cambodian jungle into police custody.

But that’s what happened to the outspoken businessman and alleged fraudster Sergei Polonsky, who was awaiting extradition to Russia on Tuesday from a Cambodian prison on embezzlement charges.

The real estate developer was arrested on Monday by local police while attempting to flee his private island in nothing else but a red beach towel, according to footage obtained by tabloid outlet LifeNews.

Known for his pompous attitude and bizarre statements, Polonsky is wanted for allegedly stealing around $175 million from investors for an undeveloped property in Moscow. Polonsky had earlier been placed on an Interpol list at Russia's request.

Reports indicate he had been tipped off on Monday about an imminent police raid on his home before leading the authorities on a brief jungle chase.

Polonsky, 40, has refuted the allegations against him.

“I am a construction magnate, I build houses,” he told the Guardian days before his arrest. “I don't understand what is happening.”

It’s not the first time the outspoken ex-billionaire, once among Russia’s richest men, has run into trouble.

Cambodian police arrested Polonsky last New Years’ Eve over allegations that he and two friends assaulted several local sailors and forced them overboard. He spent around four months in prison before being released on bail.

He was also punched in the face during a television show by another fellow eccentric Russian oligarch, Alexander Lebedev, who claims Polonsky had baited him.

Polonsky’s lawyer said Tuesday the extradition could take place within a week, the state news agency RIA Novosti reported.