MOSCOW, April 22 (RAPSI) - The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow has issued an arrest order in absentia for Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder who stands accused in Gazprom stock fraud case.
Russian investigative authorities were seeking Browder's arrest claiming that he ignored summonses.
Hermitage Capital CEO has been accused of illegally buying Gazprom stock when foreign ownership of the world's largest natural gas producer was restricted.
Hermitage Capital in its turn dismissed the charges as "absurd" and "hysterical." It also ridiculed the claim that the company used “a special scheme” to buy up “the most liquid” Russian assets.
Browder is also on trial in absentia alongside Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky on embezzlement charges. Investigators claim that they embezzled hundreds of millions of rubles from the federal budget by manipulating tax returns between September and October 2007.
Meanwhile, Hermitage Capital maintains that it paid 5.4 billion rubles ($180 million) in taxes, but that the money was stolen by corporate raiders with the help of law enforcement officials.
The prosecution against Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow pretrial detention center in 2009, has been attributed to this theft. The case was closed after his death, only to be reopened later. Under Russian law, a person can be prosecuted after his death.
In March William Browder has announced that Hermitage Capital would shut its doors in Russia. The Bloomberg report quoted Browder as having explained, “It was too small to continue as a viable concern.” He added that the closure was in the hands of HSBC Holdings Plc, the fund’s manager and trustee.