MOSCOW, June 4 (RAPSI) - The Investigative Committee believes there are grounds for bringing corruption charges against Hermitage Capital CEO William Browder in Russia, Chairman Alexander Bastrykin said during the Audit Chamber's anti-corruption forum on Tuesday.
"The case is being investigated by the Interior Ministry, but we share their opinion as we dealt with it as far as the death of Mr. Magnitsky (the former Hermitage lawyer who died in pretrial detention) is concerned," Bastrykin said.
Moscow's Tverskoy District Court ordered Browder's arrest in absentia in April, thus granting the motion of the investigators who said that Browder had repeatedly ignored their summons. The Interior Ministry said earlier that Browder will be put on the international wanted list once the court authorizes his arrest.
Browder is believed to have illegally purchased Gazprom stock when foreign ownership of the world's largest natural gas producer was restricted.
He is also on trial in absentia alongside Magnitsky for the alleged embezzlement of hundreds of millions of rubles from the federal budget by manipulating tax returns between September and October 2007.
Hermitage Capital maintains that it paid 5.4 billion rubles ($180 million) in taxes, but the money was stolen by corporate raiders with the help of law enforcement officials. Magnitsky, who died in pretrial detention in Moscow in 2009, was prosecuted for 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 2013, Browder announced that Hermitage Capital would cease its operations in Russia.
Bastrykin said the smallest possible punishment is not formalized for over 300 corruption crimes punishable under Russian law, including money laundering. "We believe that this precludes the extradition of the guilty persons, and this impossibility is sealed in the majority of international instruments," Bastrykin said.