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Oleg Tinkov pays £20 million bail to avoid UK jail

Joe Robinson
2 Mar 2020

Russian billionaire is currently fighting extradition to the US for tax fraud charges

Former Tinkoff team boss and professional cycling mogul Oleg Tinkov has paid a £20 million bail charge in Britain to avoid jail while contesting extradition to the USA on tax fraud charges.

The Russian billionaire stood at Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday to pay the bail after American prosecutors issued an arrest warrant having charged him with false tax returns and under-reporting his income for the past seven years.

Tinkov denies the charges yet was forced into the multi-million pound bail settlement with strict curfew agreements to avoid jail until next summoned to court.

According to reports, the 52-year-old will have to wear an electronic tag and remain in his Holland Park flat, in West London, from 19:00 to 07:00 each night.

Tinkov made his billions through various companies and ventures, most notably a Russian online bank that launched in 2006. As of 2014, Tinkov was said to have a net worth of £1.9 billion, making him the 1210th richest person in the world, according to Forbes.

It was this online bank that Tinkov used to get involved with professional road cycling, a sport the mogul was already passionate about.

For years, he sponsored various road cycling teams before purchasing the WorldTour licence from Danish company Saxo Bank to become majority owner in 2013.

Tinkoff Bank then co-sponsored the team with Saxo Bank until he took full control of the team in 2016, a year before the Russian pulled out of cycling wholesale, citing a lack of support from fellow teams to transform the sport's business model.

During his time in cycling, Tinkov was a controversial figure for both good and bad reasons.

He was credited for trying to add sustainability to the sport, often coming up with inventive ideas to increase viewership around cycling.

One particular method was offering Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Alberto Contador €1 million of his own wealth if they agreed to race against one another in all three Grand Tours in one season.

However, in 2015 Tinkov was accused of tweeting a racist remark to former American president Barack Obama after calling him a monkey. That same year, Tinkov also called for women's cycling to be scrapped after claiming Froome 'rode like a girl'.

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