Moscow businessman in center of hotel fraud probe flees to U.S.

MOSCOW Russian billionaire Ashot Yegiazaryan has fled to the United States and may seek asylum following an investigation into his financial dealings related to the reconstruction of Moscow’s Hotel Moskva.

Yegiazaryan says he has received death threats since filing a lawsuit against a close friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The 45-year-old tells The Daily Mail that allegations that he committed a US$87.5 million fraud related to the hotel project are false and that he is in fact the victim. Yegiazaryan says he was forced to hand over his share in the hotel in June 2009 after a campaign of intimidation that included raids by armed police and threats of criminal prosecution.

Last week, the local offices of Deutsche Bank AG were raided by Russian police because Yegiazaryan, one of the bank’s major clients, is accused of helping to steal from a company controlled by the city government that was taking part in the hotel’s reconstruction.