MOSCOW, May 29 (RAPSI) – The Moscow City Court has upheld dismissal of an appeal filed by Hermitage Capital CEO William Browder against an investigator, who had refused to explain him a right to rehabilitation, the court’s press service has told RAPSI.
According to attorney Alexander Antipov, the appeal was related to a case opened against Browder yet in 2013 over alleged embezzlement of state funds during the purchase of Gazprom company’s stock at an understated price by firms under his control. In July 2017, the case was closed due to a lack of evidence, in other words on exonerative grounds, the lawyer said. Therefore, Browder has a right to rehabilitation, Antipov explained. However, Russian courts refuse to recognize this right of Hermitage Capital CEO because of political background of the case, he added.
The lawyer also said that the ruling would be appealed again and admitted the possibility of lodging a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
On December 29, Browder was sentenced to 9 years in prison in absentia for deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion. His business partner Ivan Cherkasov received 8 years in prison. The defendants were also fined 200,000 rubles (about $3,500) each. Moreover, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court granted a civil lawsuit and recovered 4.3 billion rubles (about $75 million) from the defendants in favor of the Russian Federation. The sentence was appealed and therefore did not take effect.
Browder has been charged with several economic crimes, including deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion, 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 claimed 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).