MOSCOW, July 24 (RAPSI) - The Russian Investigative Committee dropped charges against Olga Tsymai, a former employee of the Federal Tax Service, who had been put on the so-called Magnitsky list, Kommersant newspaper reported on Friday, citing Tsymai’s lawyer Alexander Perezhogin.

Tsymai was a defendant in a high-profile case on embezzlement of 10 billion rubles ($172.3 mln) disguised as a VAT refund. The investigation against Tsymai began in 2013.  Investigators accused her of stealing over 4.4 billion rubles ($75.8 mln).

According to the lawyer, the charges were recently changed from major fraud to negligence, which made it possible to cease the criminal prosecution of the tax service’s former employee under a general pardon on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the victory in World War II.

Tsymai’s travel restrictions have been lifted and she was granted a witness status in the case, according to Kommersant.

According to the newspaper, in 2009 and 2010, the police investigated shell companies that filed false tax reports to apply for VAT refunds.

A criminal group filed VAT refund claims for nine shell companies with the tax service involved. Initially, the investigators believed Tsymai conducted a fictitious inspection. She testified that all the operations related to VAT refunds were ordered by Head of the Tax Inspection Olga Stepanova. Stepanova is currently abroad and her status in the case is unknown.