MOSCOW, December 21 (RAPSI) – The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow has arrested in absentia Hermitage Capital CEO William Browder, charged with organizing a criminal network as part of a new criminal case, RAPSI correspondent reports from the courtroom.

Browder is to be detained for two months from the day of his potential arrest, extradition or deportation. The defendant did not show up for the hearing as he lives in Great Britain.

The new case was launched against Hermitage Capital CEO on November 16. Browder is charged with organization of a criminal community and faces up to 20 years in prison. According to Russian law enforcement, the defendant is on the international wanted list and the damage he allegedly caused is estimated at 10.5 billion rubles ($153.2 million).

Investigators believe that Browder created and leaded an organized criminal group to make grave crimes in Russia including tax evasion, fraud, deliberate bankruptcy, money laundering.

This is not the first case opened by Russian authorities against Browder.

In December 2017, a Moscow court sentenced Browder to 9 years in prison in absentia for deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion. His business partner Ivan Cherkasov received 8 years in prison. The defendants were also fined 200,000 rubles (about $3,000) each. Moreover, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court granted a civil lawsuit and recovered 4.3 billion rubles (about $65 million) from the defendants in favor of the Russian Federation. In June, the sentence was upheld.

In 2013, a Russian court sentenced Browder in absentia to 9 years in a penal colony. It was found that between 1997 and 2002, Hermitage Capital auditor Sergey 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, including international sanctions against Russia.

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 (about $8 million).