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It was reported that Hermitage Capital CEO William Browder was accused of theft of the shares of the Russian gas giant Gazprom. According to the version of the detectives, the damage from Browder’s criminal actions is estimated at three billion roubles. The investment fund Hermitage Capital rejected all accusations and claimed that all the deals for the purchase of the shares of the Russian gas monopoly were legal.
On Tuesday, a criminal scheme was exposed that the criminals used for the theft of the Gazprom shares, the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily noted. Under this criminal scheme William Browder former chief of auditor Sergei Magnitsky, who died at the detention centre, misused several fly-by-night companies, which were registered in the name of disabled people in the Russian Republic of Kalmykia, in order to buy the most liquid shares of Russian companies at the prices of the Russian domestic market and transfer them abroad through the offshore companies.
Browder was seeking not only for the personal profit from the possession of the Gazprom shares, but was also trying to get the access to the Gazprom financial accounting documents, which are strategically important for Russia, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily cited head of the investigation department for organized crimes and corruption in the Russian Interior Ministry Mikhail Alexandrov as saying.
Meanwhile, Hermitage Capital denied all the claims, stating that all the deals for their purchase of the Gazprom shares were lawful, the Kommersant daily reported. All transactions for the purchase of the Gazprom shares were effectuated strictly according to the effective legislation, Hermitage Capital claimed. The procedure passed the assessment by the committee on securities, which confirmed the compliance of the procedure with the law. The accusations that these deals were detrimental to the company in some way are just absurd, the investment fund said, linking the criminal persecution against the CEO of the fund with the enactment of the Magnitsky law (the criminal case resulted from the death of the auditor in the prison hospital in November 2009), which William Browder initiated.
New accusations against Browder were voiced amid an active media campaign, which turned in a naturally continued scandal with the ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian children, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily believes. On Wednesday evening, the television channel NTV will broadcast a TV report with the participation of the Russian law enforcers, whose names are put on the Magnitsky list. They will dwell in detail on how unfair they found the accusations against them. It seems that apart from their main goal the Russian state authorities want to smooth over the negative effect from an unfavourable end of the previous campaign, which was marked with loud anti-US statements and strange propagandistic actions by Russian Presidential Children’s Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov, the newspaper noted.