August 24, 2007 / 1:07 PM / 11 years ago

Son of Russian billionaire dies in car crash

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The British-educated son of a Russian billionaire who is facing heavy government pressure has been killed in a car crash in Moscow, his family said.

Chingiskhan Gutseriyev, 21, was the son of Mikhail Gutseriyev, the former head of oil firm Russneft.

He died on Wednesday and was buried in the family’s native region of North Ossetia on Thursday in a Muslim ceremony attended by the president of neighbouring Ingushetia. Russneft said he had died of a brain haemorrhage following the crash.

The dead man’s father accused the Russian government in July of “unprecedented bullying” after Russneft received back tax demands totalling $800 million.

Mikhail Gutseriyev, whose personal wealth has been estimated at $3 billion (1.5 billion pounds), was himself accused of tax evasion and illegal business activities and courts seized some of his property.

The businessman resigned from the presidency of Russneft on July 30, blaming state pressure, after an investment vehicle controlled by Kremlin-friendly oligarch Oleg Deripaska filed for permission to buy the company.

He later replaced his statement attacking the government with another one saying he was happy to sell to Deripaska.

The Kommersant business newspaper said the circumstances of the death were mysterious. It said saying Moscow police had no record of a crash involving him, ambulance services received no call-out requests and hospitals had no record of treating him.

A Russneft spokesman and police declined comment on Kommersant’s report. Moscow traffic police told Reuters they had no record of a crash involving Chingiskhan Gutseriyev.

He was educated at the elite Harrow School, which Winston Churchill also attended, and went to Warwick University before joining the board of directors of some of his father’s companies. He was not a director of Russneft but worked at Binbank, also owned by his father.

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