WASHINGTON, October 24. /TASS/. William Browder, a British financier and the founder of Hermitage Capital, has the right to enter the US at any time, a representative with the US Customs and Border Protection told TASS.
"William Browder’s ESTA remains valid for travel to the United States. His ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization -TASS) was manually approved by CBP on October 18 - clearing him for travel to the United States," the official said.
Browder's request was considered and approved on an individual basis, the official added.
Currently, citizens of 38 countries and territories do not need visas to enter the US. This list includes, in particular, Australia, Belgium, the UK, the Republic of Korea, France, the Czech Republic and others. Citizens of these states and territories are simply obliged to notify Washington electronically, using ESTA, about their planned trips to the US. They pay a fee of $14 for obtaining this permit and are entitled to stay in the US for business or tourist purposes for up to 90 days. This permit is valid for two years.
On Sunday, Browder tweeted:
"Putin adds me to Interpol wanted list in retaliation for passage of Canadian Magnitsky Act."
"Unless Interpol lifts this notice, I will be arrested at any international border I cross on Putin's orders," Browder added.
Browder, who is a British citizen, does not need a normal visa and only needs the entry permit, which must be obtained through ESTA.
In an interview with CBS television on Monday, Browder suggested that he was expelled from the ESTA automatically because he was on Interpol's list.
An official with the US State Department told TASS that Browder had never applied for a US visa.
"We have no record of this individual ever applying for a US visa," the official with the US State Department told TASS.
Earlier this year Russian investigators completed a probe against William Browder and his business partner Ivan Cherkasov in the case of the illegal purchase of Gazprom shares. This case was detached from the general proceedings, in which Browder was earlier convicted in absentia together with Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who later died in a pre-trial detention center. As the counsel for the defense said, the final sum of damage Browder and Cherkasov are accused of equals 3.5 billion rubles ($61 million at the current exchange rate).
The U.S. Congress passed the Magnitsky Act in November/December 2012 and President Barack Obama signed it into law in December 2012. The law specifies sanctions against a number of Russian officials, including the representatives of law enforcement agencies who Washington believes played a role in Magnitsky’s death in a Moscow detention center in November 2009.
Earlier this month, "Law on Victims of Corrupt Foreign Governments", also known as the ‘Sergei Magnitsky Law’ came into effect in Canada. The Canadian parliament approved the law on October 4. The bill particularly allows the government to freeze assets and ban visas for officials from Russia and other nations considered guilty of human rights violations.