MOSCOW, November 21 - RAPSI. Russia's Interior Ministry notified Hermitage Capital that no evidence has been found to substantiate the latter's claim that Russian officials embezzled 5.4 billion rubles from the Russian budget. Former employee Sergei Magnitsky was in jail for this embezzlement when he died in prison in 2009, and Hermitage Capital has consistently maintained that the theft was in fact attributable to government officials.

This was conveyed by a notification from high-ranking police official Yuri Shinin to Magnitsky's former colleague, Jamison Firestone.

"Currently there is no information showing the involvement of officials in the crime being investigated in the criminal case materials... No information has been found on the involvement of tax and law enforcement officers in the aforementioned embezzlement," the text of the notification reads.

Hermitage Capital auditor Sergei Magnitsky was charged with masterminding large-scale corporate tax evasion. He died in a Moscow pretrial detention center on November 16, 2009 after spending a year behind bars. His death sparked a public outcry and triggered amendments to the Criminal Code and a reshuffling of officials in the penal system.

According to investigators, Magnitsky and his accomplices stole hundreds of millions of rubles from the state by manipulating tax returns between September and October 2007.

In turn, Hermitage Capital maintained that it had paid 5.4 billion rubles ($171.83 million) in taxes, but the money was stolen, abetted by law enforcement officials. Magnitsky's prosecution has been attributed to this theft.