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Moscow court arrests in absentia financier Browder charged with organizing crime syndicate

Browder was convicted in absentia in Russia twice, first in 2013, and later put r on an international wanted list

MOSCOW, December 21. /TASS/. Moscow’s Tverskoy Court has arrested in absentia British financier and Hermitage Capital Management founder William Browder charged with organizing a crime syndicate, TASS reports from the courtroom.

"The court rules to grant the investigators’ request and choose arrest in absentia as a measure of restraint for Browder," Judge Alexei Krivoruchko said.

The investigator stated about the need to grant his request. "He [Browder] is on an international wanted list and a criminal case has been opened against him and he has also been charged with organizing a crime syndicate. So I request to choose arrest as a measure of restraint for Browder," the investigator said.

The prosecutor fully backed the investigator’s request, adding that the UK law-enforcement agencies had terminated any cooperation with Russia in the Browder case.

Earlier on Friday, TASS reported that Browder had been charged in absentia with forming a criminal network, which incurred damages to the state to the tune of 10 bln rubles ($148 mln), the court said.

Browder is charged under Part 1 of Section 210 of Russia's Criminal Code ("Organizing a crime syndicate"). On November 19, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office said criminal proceedings had been initiated against him over organizing a crime syndicate. It also said Browder would be put on an international wanted list, and his assets would be impounded and later fully confiscated.

Browder was convicted in absentia in Russia twice. On July 11, 2013, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court found him guilty of large-scale tax evasion to the tune of 522 mln rubles ($9 million at the current exchange rate) and sentenced him to nine years in jail. That verdict also barred him from doing business for two years.

In July 2014, Russia put Browder on an international wanted list. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has repeatedly asked Interpol to issue an arrest warrant for him.

On December 29, 2017, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court sentenced Browder to nine years behind bars in absentia, having found him guilty of tax evasion to the tune of more than 3 bln rubles ($45.5 mln) and bankruptcy fraud. His business partner Ivan Cherkasov was sentenced to a similar prison term. The court also upheld a lawsuit against Browder and Cherkasov worth 4.2 bln rubles ($64 mln) and barred them from doing business in Russia for three years.