FILE – In this Jan. 26, 2011 file photo Akhmed Bilalov speaks with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Bilalov, a former Russian Olympic Committee official, who fled the country following accusations by President Vladimir Putin was arrested Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, at his home in Sunny Isles, Fla., on an alleged immigration violation. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
A former Russian Olympic Committee official who claimed his office was poisoned after being criticized by Russian President Vladimir Putin over preparations for the 2014 Winter Games has been arrested in Florida for an alleged immigration violation.
Real estate developer Akhmed Bilalov, 48, had fled his country after facing abuse of office charges in connection to his work as chairman of a state company that was building ski resorts in southern Russia.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Tammy Spicer announced Wednesday that Bilalov was arrested at his condo in Sunny Isles Beach on Tuesday. He was taken to the Krome detention facility in Miami to face deportation and remained in custody Wednesday.
The agency’s statement says Bilalov had arrived in the United States for a temporary stay on May 2, 2016, but “failed to depart in accordance with the terms of his admission.”
The Miami Herald first reported the story and said Bilalov had been living in Florida with his wife and newborn in an upscale suburb of Miami Beach, nicknamed “Little Moscow” for its number of Russian emigres. ICE’s records don’t list defense attorneys, and it wasn’t immediately clear who may be representing the real estate tycoon.
Bilalov was a rising star in Russian business and sports circles until his sudden downfall in February 2013, when Putin publicly disgraced him for delays and cost overruns during his tenure overseeing a ski jump complex being built for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Soon after, Bilalov resigned as a vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee. Two months later, Russian prosecutors opened a criminal case against him in connection with alleged misuse of funds intended for developing tourism resorts and overclaiming expenses for a visit to the 2012 Olympics in London.
Russian state news agencies reported Wednesday that the case against Bilalov remained open and that he was on a wanted list.
Facing up to four years in prison if convicted, Bilalov left Russia for Germany, where he alleged that doctors found elevated levels of mercury in his blood. In comments to the Russian news agency Interfax, Bilalov claimed his Moscow office had been contaminated.
Before his downfall, Bilalov also led the Russian Golf Federation and had a seat on the International Olympic Committee’s marketing commission in 2011 and 2012.