Russian investment fund chief defends Michael Calvey, US investor detained in Moscow

  • Baring Vostok founder is reportedly detained in Moscow.
  • Reuters reports Michael Calvey and others are suspecetd of embezzlement.
  • Kremlin reportedly denies knowledge of the arrest.
Michael Calvey, co-managing partner of Baring Vostok Capital Partners, gestures during an interview at the company's headquarters in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, April 4, 2011.
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Michael Calvey, co-managing partner of Baring Vostok Capital Partners, gestures during an interview at the company's headquarters in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, April 4, 2011.

A U.S. citizen and private equity founder has been arrested in Moscow on Friday on suspicion of embezzlement.

According to Russian news agency IFAX, Michael Calvey, has been detained along with others in relation to the theft of 2.5 billion roubles ($37.5 million).

The same media has reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not aware of Calvey's detention and that the arrest was made based on evidence from The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).

Later Reuters reported that Calvey told a Russian court that the allegations were false and had arisen because his fund is in a dispute with Russia's Vostochny Bank.

In an earlier statement provided to CNBC Friday, the head of Russia's Sovereign Wealth Fund, Kirill Dmitriev, said he considered Calvey a professional.

"It is very difficult to comment on the situation around Michael Calvey's detention not knowing the details of the charges. However, here at the Russian Direct Investment Fund we know Michael Calvey and the team of Baring Vostok as highly professional investors, committed to the highest ethical standards accepted in the investment community" he said.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Dmitriev added that he would personally vouch for Calvey.

"I am ready to provide personal guarantee for Michael Calvey and believe that he did a lot for attracting foreign investment in Russia and helped many Russian companies to grow and mature."

"We hope that it is a very transparent process that will follow," Dmitriev told CNBC's Hadley Gamble. "Mike said today he believes in the Russian legal system... so we need to make sure the system works, but we support Mike Calvey and we believe that hopefully this is a misunderstanding that gets resolved."

CNBC has learned that Dmitriev and Calvey have previously co-invested on a number of projects.

Who is Baring Vostok?

According to the company's own website, Baring Vostock has deployed around $3.7 billion of capital in Russia and former Soviet nations since 1994.

Investors are drawn primarily from pension and sovereign wealth funds from around the world.

The firm's funds have investments in 80 projects, focusing on oil and gas, consumer products, media and technology, telecommunications and financial services.

Michael Calvey is described as the founder and senior partner of the firm. His biography states that before Baring Vostok he lived in London and New York where he worked for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as well as Salomon Brothers, where he worked on mergers and acquisitions in the oil and gas industry.