MOSCOW, December 29. /TASS/. Moscow’s Tverskoi Court has sentenced UK Hermitage Capital founder William Browder in absentia to nine years in jail, finding him guilty of deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion worth over 3 billion rubles, TASS reports after the courtroom.
"By cumulative crimes, the court rules to sentence Browder to 9 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 200,000 rubles [$3,470] and defendant Ivan Cherkasov to 9 years in a general-security penal colony and a fine of 200,000 rubles. The court rules to grant the lawsuit and recover 4.2 billion rubles [$72.9 million] jointly from Browder and Cherkasov," the judge read out the verdict.
The court also banned Browder and his business partner Cherkasov from engaging in entrepreneurial activity for three years on Russia’s territory.
The court read out only the introductory and the operative parts of the judgment, from which its reasoning remains unknown. The court held its hearing and pronounced its verdict in the absence of the defendants who are staying abroad.
The verdict has not yet entered into legal force. The counsel for the defense has already announced its intention to appeal against the judgment in the Moscow City Court.
"We will appeal against the verdict in an appeals panel," Browder’s lawyer said.
The prosecutor requested the court to find the defendants guilty and sentence Browder to 9 years in a general-security prison and a fine of 200,000 rubles and Cherkasov to 8 years in a general-security penitentiary and a fine of 200,000 rubles.
The investigation of the Browder criminal case was completed in February 2017. Moscow’s Tverskoi Court arrested Browder in absentia on February 18, 2017.
As investigators believe, the defendants did not pay taxes from several companies, eventually making them bankrupt. These actions done by Browder and Cherkasov relate to 1996. Three branches of the Federal Tax Service’s Moscow Department are the affected parties in this case.
This is the second case against Browder reviewed in absentia. The British financier was sentenced in absentia on July 11, 2013 for tax evasion worth 522 million rubles ($9 million at the current exchange rate) and sentenced to nine years in jail.
Russia’s Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika said in October he did not rule out that the United Kingdom might extradite Hermitage Capital founder Browder to the US authorities for bringing him to criminal liability.
"There is, probably, a chance for the extradition of Browder from the United Kingdom to the United States for bringing him to criminal liability," the chief prosecutor said in response to a question about whether Browder’s extradition was possible.
"It is no accident that he has changed his citizenship - he was a US citizen and did not pay taxes, In order to evade taxes, he assumed UK citizenship. Now he is a UK citizen, believing, perhaps, that the UK does not extradite anyone to any country. He will feel calmer there," Chaika added.
It emerged on August 24 that Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office had sent objections to Interpol’s repeat refusal to put Browder on an international wanted list. Russia sent a repeat inquiry to Interpol after bringing a new charge against him under part 3, article 33 and part 2, article 199 ("Organizing Large-Scale Tax Evasion in an Organization"), part 3, article 33 and part 2, article 199.1 ("Organizing Non-Fulfillment of the Duties of a Tax Agent for Personal Interests") and part 3, article 33 and article 196 ("Organizing Deliberate Bankruptcy") of Russia’s Criminal Code.