Magnitsky Convicted After Death

Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian investment fund lawyer, was convicted of tax evasion in a posthumous trial in Moscow, the first of its kind in Russia.

William Browder, Magnitsky’s former client, was tried in absentia and sentenced to nine years in prison, though it is unlikely the British citizen will be extradited to Russia.

Prosecutors accused Magnitsky and Browder of failing to pay 522 million rubles (about $16 million) in taxes.

In 2007 Magnitsky informed Moscow investigators that a company he represented had been stolen by a convicted criminal. He later provided evidence to seven government agencies that the largest tax refund ($230 million) in Russian history had been a fraud that succeeded with the help of the Russian mafia, police, auditors and other officials. OCCRP reported in-depth on this subject.

Magnitsky was charged with the crime he uncovered and thrown in jail. In 2009, after 358 days of mistreatment and abuse, he died in a rat-infested cell.  Russian authorities closed the case against Magnitsky after his death but reopened it in 2011.

"Today's verdict will go down in history as one of the most shameful moments for Russia since the days of Joseph Stalin," Browder told Reuters.

Browder campaigned on behalf of Magnitsky after he was jailed. He lobbied the US Congress, which resulted in the December 2012 signing of the Magnitsky Act, which bans Russians believed to be involved in his death from entering the US. It also freezes their US assets.

Just last week, Olga Tysmai, one of the 18 people on the Magnitsky List, was charged with embezzling 4.4 billion rubles (about $135 million) through a fraudulent VAT tax return scheme.