Belarusian security services have announced the arrest of one of the country's wealthiest businessman on suspicion of large-scale tax evasion.

The arrest of Yury Chizh was seen as a signal to big business that they will be punished for failing to provide budget revenues at a time when the former Soviet republic is in economic crisis.

Chizh, who owns the company Triple, faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Dmitry Pobyarzhin, a spokesman for the KGB security service, said Sunday that Chizh was arrested along with several others and all of them were being held in the KGB detention center.

No one at Triple could be reached for comment on the charges.

The 52-year-old Chizhov has been part of President Alexander Lukashenko's inner circle for 20 years.