Nikolai Doroshenko, a wealthy Russian property developer facing fraud charges in Sihanoukville, has been freely traveling abroad in the 14 months since he was released from prison on the condition that he remain in Cambodia, even appearing on a Ukrainian television program to deny mafia links and boast of his business prowess.
Mr. Doroshenko, 56, a longtime resident of Cambodia who famously feuded with Sergei Polonsky before the eccentric oligarch was deported last year, was jailed in March 2015 after being charged with forgery and breach of trust for allegedly defrauding Mr. Polonsky of $10 million.
Russian businessman Nikolai Doroshenko appears in a video clip of a March interview with Ukraine’s 1 First City news outlet. Professing innocence and promising legal retribution for Mr. Polonsky, Mr. Doroshenko was released from the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Prison that June after the Supreme Court bailed him on medical grounds, convinced that he was not a flight risk. The Court of Appeal granted him bail weeks earlier, but a prosecutor at the court overruled the decision.
At the time, Mr. Doroshenko’s son Ostap—who accuses Mr. Polonsky of paying $250,000 in bribes to have his father locked up—said his father was released on the conditions that he did not change residences or leave Cambodia.
“My father is a citizen; he has his whole life here. He is not going to run,” said the younger Doroshenko, a captain in the Interior Ministry’s personnel department who runs a number of businesses with his father in Sihanoukville, including the popular Snake House restaurant and menagerie.
A document confirming the Court of Appeal’s original decision to grant Mr. Doroshenko bail, signed by Judge Khun Leang Meng on April 27 last year, similarly states that he cannot leave the country without permission from an investigating judge.
Contacted this week, judges at both the Appeal Court and Supreme Court said they could no longer remember the high-profile case, which made headlines for months.
“I can’t remember because this case happened a long time ago,” said Judge Leang Meng of the Court of Appeal.
“Don’t ask me. I don’t know about the case,” said Supreme Court Judge Khim Pon, who granted Mr. Doroshenko bail.
Reached on Tuesday, Mr. Doroshenko admitted to making multiple trips overseas since his release, but said they were court-approved because he had given his lawyer advance notice of his travel plans, declining to name the lawyer.
“I asked my lawyer to give me a warrant to leave and travel for medical checks and then come back. So my lawyer reported to the court,” he added. “I didn’t know what court.”
Mr. Doroshenko said he could not remember details of his recent travel, but that he had been to Ukraine multiple times for both business and medical reasons, adding that he had suffered a heart attack after his release.
“In the Ukraine, I gave an interview to one television station to provide information about business in Cambodia to some investors,” he said.
A video of an interview posted to YouTube by the Odessa-based 1 First City news website in March begins with a presenter introducing Mr. Doroshenko as a “famous Russian biologist who went to Cambodia 23 years ago to start a life and a career.”
“They call him Russian mafia man, an oligarch and a baron,” the interviewer continues. “In Cambodia, he has a reputation for getting a building permit wherever he wants.”
Asked about his alleged mafia ties, Mr. Doroshenko replies: “You know how it is: Three Slavs is already a mafia. For foreigners, it’s a scary thing, so do not pay attention to it.”
“It was easy to become a millionaire in Cambodia,” he says later, going on to explain how he leased islands from the Cambodian government for 99 years. (The fraud charges against Mr. Dorosehnko stem from accusations that he failed to give Mr. Polonsky promised investment licenses for four islands off the coast of Sihanoukville.)
Mr. Doroshenko concludes the interview by saying that he is considering investing $3 million to $5 million in apartment projects in Odessa and planning to travel to Kiev in three days’ time.
On Tuesday, Ostap Doroshenko also said his father’s travel was “legal,” ignoring questions about his previous assertion that his father was not allowed to leave Cambodia.
“We connect with the lawyer, not the court; the lawyer connects with the court,” he said, adding that his father had also been traveling to Thailand for medical appointments related to his heart problems.
However, Vladimir Palancica, general manager of Lotus Tours and a close associate of Mr. Polonsky—who is himself facing fraud allegations in Russia—questioned the legality of Mr. Doroshenko’s jet-setting ways.
He said Mr. Polonsky’s Cambodian lawyers were building a new case against Mr. Doroshenko for violating the terms of his bail.
“We want to present everything to the court. We are hoping the court will arrest him again because he is not respecting the decision of the court,” said Mr. Palancica, a Maldovan national.
Mr. Polonsky’s local lawyers could not be reached.
The status of the fraud case against Mr. Doroshenko remains unclear. Chat Soreaksmey, chief prosecutor at the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court, said that “all documents related to Polonsky and Nikolai” had been sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Municipal court spokesman Ly Sophana said he knew nothing about the case and referred questions to court secretariat Y Rin, who said he could not find the documents in question.
(Additional reporting by Olesia Plokhii)
kohlbacher@cambodiadaily.com, pheap@cambodiadaily.com
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