Criminal charges have been dropped against the former owner of Russian cosmetics retailer Arbat Prestige, his lawyer said on Monday.
Alexander Dobrovinsky said tax evasion charges were dismissed against his client, Vladimir Nekrasov, as well as his business partner Semyon Mogilevich, alias Sergei Shnaider, because "there was no evidence of any wrongdoing."
"Vladimir Ilich [Nekrasov] has lost $1.5 billion [as a result]. I doubt that the investigator will be able to refund this money," Dobrovinsky said.
Vladimir Nekrasov, who owned the store chain, was arrested on tax evasion charges in Moscow in January 2008 along with Semyon Mogilevich, a reputed crime boss. Nekrasov described the arrest as an attempt to seize his business.
Both were released from custody in July 2009 but placed under travel restrictions.
Ukrainian-born Mogilevich, 64, has been on the wanted list of a number of countries, including the United States, for more than 15 years for alleged involvement in organized crime and corruption. Believed to control the largest Russian mafia syndicate in the world, he is suspected of involvement in arms dealing, drug and sex trafficking, as well as money laundering.
He served two jail terms in the Soviet Union in the 1970s for illegal currency dealings and fraud.
Russian prosecutors alleged that Mogilevich was behind a tax evasion scheme said to have been used by Arbat Prestige. His lawyers repeatedly protested their client's innocence, and denied he had any links to the cosmetics chain.
Arbat Prestige was established in 1989 and opened its first retail outlet in 1998. The chain, which at one time had around 100 outlets throughout Russia and 20 in Ukraine, is now defunct.
MOSCOW, April 18 (RIA Novosti)