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Russian court orders arrest of Hediard owner Pugachev

Thursday, 26 Dec 2013 | 6:38 AM ET

MOSCOW, Dec 26 (Reuters) - A Russian court has ordered the arrest of Sergei Pugachev, owner of insolvent French luxury goods retailer Hediard, as part of a fraud investigation, Russian business daily Kommersant reported on Thursday.

The Moscow court acted on a request by Russia's Investigative Committee, which is looking into allegations of fraud involving IIB bank - known in Russian as Mezhprombank - the paper reported citing anonymous sources. Pugachev is a beneficial owner of IIB, which saw its banking licence revoked in 2010, according to Kommersant.

According to Kommersant sources, Pugachev was also put on an international wanted list as investigators concluded he had left the country. The order for his arrest in absentia would allow them to request his extradition to Russia.

Neither the Investigative Committee nor Moscow's Basmanny District Court were immediately available for comment. A representative of the bank did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. Hediard said it would not comment. Reuters was not able to locate Pugachev to obtain comment.

Pugachev's Luxadvor group bought the 150-year-old French chain of luxury food shops Hediard in 2007 in a deal that promised to help it expand abroad, but the chain has continued to lose money for the past six years.

Russian and French media reported that he paid more than 1 billion euros for the chain. In October, Hediard was placed under court-ordered restructuring after it filed for insolvency.

(Additional reporting by Megan Davies and Yves Clarisse; Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Louise Ireland and Peter Graff)