Interior Ministry completes investigation into Magnitsky case
MOSCOW, November 2 - RAPSI. The investigation report of the criminal case regarding Sergei Magnitsky, the Hermitage Capital fund lawyer who died three years ago in the Investigative Isolation Ward, has been submitted to the prosecutor's office for the approval of the bill of indictment, a source in the law enforcement authorities told RIA Novosti on Friday.
Hermitage Capital also reported that the investigation has come to a close, claiming that the investigators prohibited lawyers from further familiarizing themselves with case materials. "The defense was not prohibited from examining case materials, rather they just had a limited time to do so," a source in the law enforcement authorities said, adding that the time limit was imposed so as not to delay the investigation.
The case was being investigated by the Interior Ministry's Investigative Department.
Hermitage Capital was one of the largest investment funds in Russia. In December 2009, the fund reported that law enforcement agents had seized the three companies' constituent documents in June 2007. Soon after their seizure, a criminal group registered a sham company as the owner of the three Hermitage subsidiaries, which enabled the group to steal 5.4 billion rubles ($178.6 million) in budget funds. The fund believes that the companies could only be re-registered using the documents taken by the police who had them on registration day.
The fund's head, William Browder, alleged that the subsidiaries were taken over by raiders who later orchestrated lawsuits to make it look like losses had been incurred during periods when profits had in fact been reported. They then proceeded to submit revised tax returns to claim a refund of the taxes paid in excess, he said.
The fund maintains that the companies' takeover and the subsequent 5.4 billion ruble theft were uncovered by its legal consultant Sergei Magnitsky, who testified to the role of law enforcement officials in the crime.
On November 24, 2008, Magnitsky was arrested on suspicion of tax crimes. Shortly after, the Investigative Department of the Interior Ministry accused Magnitsky of colluding with Hermitage Capital in tax evasion.
Magnitsky died in the Matrosskaya Tishina investigative isolation ward on November 16, 2009. According to investigators, Magnitsky died because he was not rendered medical aid in time.
A trial is currently underway over Dmitry Kratov, former deputy head of the Butyrka pretrial detention center where Magnitsky was held for most of his arrest. Investigators accuse him of improperly carrying out his duties, which, as a result, led to Magnitsky's death.