Ukrainian tycoon was questioned by police in connection with criminal case

Ukrainian police on Tuesday questioned the country's wealthiest tycoon as a witness in several criminal cases.

Rinat Akhmetov, a coal and steel magnate, "gave full answers to all questions" of police investigators, said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Inna Kisel. She refused to elaborate, and no details were available on what criminal cases Akhmetov was asked about. Forbes magazine lists Akhmetov as Ukraine's wealthiest tycoon, with an estimated fortune of US$2.4 billion (Ђ2 billion). Besides steel and metals holdings, he is also the owner of a top soccer club and a major television station. The tycoon and his businesses have faced increasing pressure since Viktor Yushchenko became president in January and began a government crackdown on shady business deals dating back to the administration of former President Leonid Kuchma. Last month, police stormed and searched the tycoon's office in his native town of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in connection with an investigation into tax evasion and abuse of power.

In July, police summoned Akhmetov for questioning about an alleged 1988 assassination attempt, but Akhmetov did not appear, the AP reports.

Yushchenko's government has regained control over an important steel mill that was bought last year by Akhmetov and the son-in-law of former President Leonid Kuchma in a highly criticized privatization deal. AM

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