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Highland castle owner arrested over an alleged multi-million pound fraud

Sergey Fedotov
Sergey Fedotov

A Russian tycoon who bought former Rangers owner Craig Whyte’s Highland castle has been arrested over an alleged multi-million pound fraud for the second time.

Sergey Fedotov, who purchased Castle Grant near Grantown-on-Spey for £1 million, was taken into custody following a raid by police in Moscow earlier this month.

The 41-year-old businessman has already served a prison sentence for a £3.6 million property fraud which he committed while head of the Russian Authors’ Society (RAO).

He has now been accused of embezzling £9 million worth of funds from the organisation, which collects royalty payments on behalf of writers.

Fedotov bought the 16-century A-listed pile in 2014 after it was repossessed from Whyte when he failed to keep up with mortgage payments. He put it up for sale earlier this year for offers over £850,000.

The new charges alleges that he was involved in another “large scale fraud” while working at the RAO.

He was remanded in custody until February following a hearing at the Tverskoy District Court in Moscow.

A court spokesman said: “By a decision of the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow in respect of Sergey Fedotov, suspected of committing a crime under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, a preventive measure in the form of detention for 2 months, until February 6, 2019, was elected.”

If found guilty, the maximum penalty for the charge is 10 years in prison.

In June 2017, Fedotov admitted fraud during a hearing at Moscow’s Meshchansky Court and was jailed for 18 months. However he was released on parole after serving just six months.

Prosecutors told the Moscow court that Fedotov deliberately misled the RAO board, encouraging them to transfer properties held by them to a private company.

The company then sold the property to third parties, leaving the RAO out of pocket to the sum of 300 million rubles – £3.6 million.

Interior photos show Fedotov has spent thousands of pounds refurbishing Castle Grant after it fell into disrepair during Whyte’s ownership.

He has installed modern en-suite bathrooms and a fitted kitchen and one of the rooms features a tartan carpet.

The grand property, which is set in 35 acres of grounds, also boasts a ballroom, drawing room and billiard room.

Russian police started investigating Fedotov in 2015 after concerns were raised about where he got the funds to buy the castle and other properties in the south of England.

Fedotov has previously insisted that Castle Grant was bought lawfully and said the purchase was modest as the castle was only worth the price of a small apartment in Moscow.

He said: “That castle in Scotland I have, I acknowledge.

“But this property is irrelevant. The cost corresponds to the cost of a two–bedroom apartment in the centre of Moscow.”

The RAO is a non-governmental organization created in 1993 for collective management of author’s rights and has more than 25,000 members.

Fedotov bought Castle Grant in September, 2014, after it was repossessed by the Bank of Scotland.

In 2015 he allowed the castle’s grounds to be used for a massive banquet and concert to mark the 250th anniversary celebrations of the town of Grantown.

Whyte bought it for £720,000 in 2006 but fell into arrears with the £7,000-a-month mortgage. The Bank of Scotland took legal action to recover it after his Ibrox reign ended.

He has been made bankrupt and last year was cleared of charges related to his takeover of the club.

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