MOSCOW, January 9 (RAPSI) – An appeal has been filed against a 9-year prison sentence given to Hermitage Capital head William Browder in absentia for deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion, Anastasia Dzyurko, the spokesperson for Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court, has told RAPSI.
The hearing date has not been set yet.
On December 29, the court passed the sentence on Browder and his business partner Ivan Cherkasov in absentia. Cherkasov received 8 years in prison. The defendants were also fined 200,000 rubles (about $3,500) each. Moreover, the court granted a civil lawsuit and recovered 4.3 billion rubles (about $75 million) from the defendants in favor of the Russian Federation.
Browder has been charged with several economic crimes, including deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion, his attorney Alexander Antipov has told RAPSI earlier. Investigation into Browder was completed within the shortest possible time, from February 8 to 17, 2017, the lawyer 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.
Prosecutors claim that the defendants caused damage estimated at over 4 billion rubles. The businessmen, residing in the United Kingdom, were put on the international wanted list.
In February 2017, the Tverskoy District Court arrested the defendants in absentia. However, the United Kingdom refused to extradite its nationals on Russia’s request.
In 2013, a Russian court sentenced Browder in absentia to 9 years in a penal colony. The court 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.
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 (over $8 million).