LONDON, November 19. /TASS/. US-born British financier William Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management, believes his help in passing the Magnitsky Act in the United States served as a reason for new charges in Russia.
Touching on the new charges pressed in Russia over creating a criminal network, Browder tweeted: "On the eve of Interpol deciding whether a Russian official should be president of Interpol, the Russian prosecutor’s office holds a huge press conference about me and how they will chase me down anywhere in the world. I really struck a nerve with the Magnitsky Act."
Earlier on Monday, Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office announced that Russian investigators had opened a criminal investigation against Browder over setting up a criminal network. Browder would be put on an international wanted list and his property would be frozen and confiscated. The verdict concerning the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky may be overturned, Spokesman for the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office Alexander Kurennoi told reporters.
The investigators are considering a theory that Magnitsky could have been poisoned with a chemical agent created for sabotage, and his natural death could have been staged.
According to the Prosecutor-General’s Office, Browder could have been interested in Magnitsky’s death more than anyone else after receiving false and provocative data from him.
"Tomorrow the Dutch government will be inviting all EU member states to The Hague to propose an EU wide Magnitsky Act. In advance of that, the Russian government today has accused me of murdering Sergei Magnitsky. Kafkaeske to say the least," Browder wrote.
The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was passed by the US Congress and signed by then-President Barack Obama in December 2012. The law particularly specified sanctions against a number of Russian officials, including law enforcement officers, believed by Washington to have played a role in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an auditor at the Hermitage Capital Management company, who died in a Moscow detention center in November 2009.
The act envisages sanctioning Russian officials whom the US considers to be responsible for human rights violations. It particularly allows the US government to freeze assets and ban visas for officials. William Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management, is considered as the key initiator of passing the law.
Russia views the Magnitsky Act as interference into its domestic affairs. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the document as "unfriendly" and "provocative."
The Browder case
Browder has been twice sentenced in Russia in absentia. On July 11, 2013, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court found Browder guilty in absentia of massive tax evasion (estimated at 522 mln rubles, or $8 mln) and sentenced him to nine years in prison. He was also stripped of his right to do business for two years.
In July 2014, Russia put Browder on a worldwide wanted list. The Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office has repeatedly requested Interpol to arrest Browder. The latest news on such a request came in December 2017.
On December 29, 2018 Moscow’s Tverskoy Court sentenced Browder in absentia to nine years in prison, finding him guilty of tax evasion to the tune of more than 3 billion rubles ($45.5 mln) and bankruptcy fraud. Ivan Cherkasov, Browder’s business partner, was given a similar sentence. The court ruled to satisfy a civil suit against the defendants and ordered them to pay 4.2 billion rubles ($64 mln), while barring them from doing business in Russia for three years.