Ex-manager at Russian car dealer gets 8-1/2 years for sending money abroad

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A former senior manager at the Russian car dealership Rolf was sentenced on Friday to 8-1/2 years in prison for participating in a deal considered to constitute an illegal transfer of funds abroad, a Moscow court said.

Anatoly Kairo, Rolf's director of business development, was found to have sent large sums abroad using forged documents as part of an organised group, the Cheremushki district court said.

The Russian Investigative Committee initiated the case in 2019, saying that in 2014 Rolf had purchased shares in one of its own subsidiaries, registered in Russia, at an inflated price, and that the money for these shares had been transferred to the account of a Cypriot company in an Austrian bank.

The Committee also issued arrest warrants for the company's founder, former lawmaker Sergei Petrov, and several other Rolf managers, but failed to find them.

Petrov, who has Austrian citizenship and was in Austria at the time, denied all charges.

Petrov has sometimes been outspoken in his criticism of doing business in Russia, and said in 2019 that the investigation against him might be related to his political stance.

Russian media said Kairo, who was taken into custody in the courtroom on Friday, was a Ukrainian citizen.

Petrov and lawyers for Kairo did not immediately respond to emailed questions.

In 2021, Rolf, at that time Russia's largest car dealership, was bought by its rival Klyuchavto.

(Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Peter Graff)