MOSCOW, July 20 (RAPSI, Oleg Sivozhelezov) – Russia's Federal Tax Service filed a lawsuit seeking to collect 3 billion rubles ($50 million) from Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder and his partner Ivan Cherkasov as part of an alleged tax evasion scheme, lawyer Alexander Antipov told RAPSI on Thursday.
Damage allegedly caused by Browder and Cherkasov was estimated by the Interior Ministry’s experts, Antipov said.
According to Antipov, the limitation period for criminal prosecution has expired a long time ago, as the case was launched in 2014. Afterwards, it was repeatedly closed and reopened. The lawyer also added that Interpol had refused to issue an arrest warrant for Browder and Cherkasov.
Browder had been charged with several economic crimes, including deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion, Antipov told RAPSI earlier. Investigation into Browder was completed within the shortest possible time, from February 8 to 17, 2017, he added. However, neither the defendant nor his legal team were notified about investigation. According to Antipov, this fact exemplifies “secret justice” and violates the law.
Earlier, the Tverskoy District Court arrested Browder in absentia on charges of embezzling stock of Russia’s oil giant Gazprom. According to Russian authorities, Browder illegally bought over 130 million Gazprom shares worth at least 2 billion rubles ($34 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.
However, the United Kingdom refused to extradite its national.
In 2013, a Russian court sentenced Browder in absentia to 9 years in prison. The court found that from 1997 to 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.
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 ($8.5 million).