Swiss businessman Alexander Studhalter has been arrested in France in connection to the case of Russian senator Suleyman Kerimov, who was accused of tax evasion and money laundering, reported the newspaper Nice Matin.
Studhalter was arrested on January 12; investigators say that the Swiss businessman was a stand-in for Kerimov when the latter was purchasing property in southern France.
The Swiss businessman’s attorneys are appealing against the court arrest.
Kerimov was detained at Nice airport on November 20. The French Prosecutor's Office believes that he illegally imported €500-€750 million into the country, then laundered it by purchasing of real estate on the French Riviera. Moreover, according to Nice prosecutor Jean-Michel Pretre, Kerimov bought villas at prices below the market rate.
On December 6, Kerimov was released from custody, increasing the bail amount from €5 million to €40 million. The senator was banned from leaving the region for the duration of the investigation.
On December 25, Moscow requested permission for Kerimov to be repatriated under the assurances of the Russian side. The Federation Council said that the senator should be given the opportunity to perform his duties. The French side has not yet responded.
According to LinkedIn, Studhalter is the founder and CEO of SWIRU Holding AG, which specializes in private investment.