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MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. The Moscow City Court on Monday ruled as legitimate a decision on extending until May the investigation against UK national William Browder, head of the investment fund Hermitage Capital, in the Gazprom stock theft case.
The court thus upheld a decision to extend to a total of 25 months the probe against Browder who is charged with stealing Gazprom shares worth almost 3 billion rubles (about $50 million at the current exchange rate).
The decision on the probe’s extension was earlier challenged by Browder’s counsel for the defense, Alexander Averyanov, who argued that this measure evidenced red tape in the case. The court examined the complaint and ruled it was illegitimate.
Russia has placed Browder on international wanted list. He is accused of illegally obtaining over 131 million shares of Russian energy giant Gazprom in the period of 1999 and 2004 at internal market prices. Foreigners were barred at that time from directly owning the Gazprom stock.
A Russian court earlier sentenced Browder in absentia to nine years in prison for tax evasion worth over 522 million rubles (about $9 million at the current exchange rate). Under the court’s ruling, Browder is also barred from engaging in entrepreneurial activity for two years.