MOSCOW, February 21 (RAPSI, Oleg Sivozhelezov) – Preliminary investigation into separate criminal case against Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder has been completed, RAPSI learnt from his lawyer Alexander Antipov on Tuesday.
He noted that Browder is charged with several economic crimes, including deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion. Antipov added that investigation into Browder was completed within the shortest possible time, from February 8 to 17, 2017. However, neither defendant nor his legal team were notified about investigation. According to Antipov, this fact exemplifies “secret justice” and violates law.
The lawyer said that Browder is not on the international wanted list despite contrary claims by law enforcement representatives.
On Monday, press-secretary of the Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court, Anastasia Dzyurko told RAPSI that the court had issued an arrest warrant for Browder in absentia.
Browder’s defense lawyers have already filed an appeal against the ruling. The hearing date has not been scheduled yet.
Earlier, the Tverskoy District Court arrested Browder in absentia on charges of embezzling stock of Russia’s oil giant Gazprom. However, the United Kingdom refused to extradite its national.
According to Russian authorities, Browder illegally bought over 130 million Gazprom shares worth at least 2 billion rubles ($32.6 million at the current exchange rate) at a lower, intra-market price through a Russian company he controlled, Kameya LLC, which amounts to large financial loss for Russia.
Earlier, a Russian court sentenced Browder in absentia to nine years in a penal colony. The court found that in 1997-2002, Hermitage Capital auditor Sergei Magnitsky created and applied an illegal tax evasion scheme in the interests of Browder.
Magnitsky worked for Firestone Duncan and represented Hermitage Capital, which the Russian authorities accused of tax evasion. Magnitsky was arrested on fraud charges in November 2008 and found dead in a Moscow detention center in November 2009. The lawyer’s death provoked an international outcry.
In July 2013, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court found Magnitsky guilty of tax evasion and closed the case due to his death. According to the case materials, Magnitsky’s and Hermitage Capital director William Browder’s actions cost Russia over 500 million rubles (over $8 million).