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Kerimov's family now controls Russia's largest gold producer Polyus, where his son is the legal owner of the majority stake. "Intensive work is now being undertaken by the foreign ministry".

The prosecution requested that Kerimov be kept in custody and a decision by a judge was due in the night from Wednesday to Thursday.

The 51-year-old is a senator in the upper house of the Russian parliament, one of two representatives from the south-western republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus region. Polyus declined to comment.

Russian state news channel Rossiya 24 reported that Mr Kerimov denied any wrongdoing. It was not immediately clear if a lawyer had been hired to represent Kerimov in France.

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That did not sit well with animal rights activists, and that includes Ellen. "Elephant populations across Africa are declining". Zinke said in a statement later Friday that "the issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed".

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed to news agencies on November 22 that it had summoned the charge d'affaires of the French Embassy in Moscow in connection with Kerimov's detention in the French Riviera resort of Nice.

"We have still not received from the French authorities any explanation of the reasons for the detention of our colleague", Kurbanov told parliament. Shares in the company fell after news of his arrest broke.

Kerimov, who is listed by Forbes magazine as Russia's 21st richest person with an estimated net worth of $6.3 billion (5.4 billion euros), is a frequent visitor to the Cote d'Azur.

The investigation of Mr Kerimov's affairs in France first came to light early this year when police raided the Villa Hier on Cap D'Antibes that, although nominally owned by a Swiss financier, was believed to belong to the Russian senator.