Russia ‘Relaunches Probe Into Sergei Magnitsky’
Six years after the death of corruption whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian prison, Russia has relaunched its investigation into the dead man, reports BuzzFeed News.
Russian authorities now reportedly suspect the deceased lawyer of orchestrating the US$ 230 million fraud scheme that he himself uncovered in 2008, while auditing investment firm Hermitage Capital.
At the time, Magnitsky presented evidence that a group of Russian officials ran the fraud scheme. Those he accused had him arrested, and he died about a year later in custody.
Despite the man being dead, Russia launched legal proceedings against Magnitsky and found him guilty in 2013 of tax evasion in the country’s first posthumous trial in decades.
Last week, Russian law enforcement in cooperation with authorities in Cyprus raided the Cypriot law firm of Hermitage Capital, company head William Browder told BuzzFeed News.
“[Cyprus is] cooperating with the people they’re supposed to be investigating,” said Browder. “This raises a very serious question about whether Cyprus is part of the European Union, or whether it’s a colony of Russia.”
In 2008, Magnitsky uncovered evidence while working for Hermitage Capital that police, tax officials and judicial institutions had colluded in one of the largest corporate raids in the country’s history.
He presented documents to the Russian government showing that, with the help of Interior Ministry employees, officials from two Moscow tax bureaus and 11 judges, a convicted killer stole ownership of three of Hermitage Capital Management’s Russian-based holding companies and fraudulently claimed a US$230 million tax refund on their behalf according to an OCCRP report.
Magnitsky died in custody on Nov. 16, 2009 after suffering beatings and poor health, for which he was refused medical treatment.
BuzzFeed News reports that one of the Russian officials that went to Cyprus to conduct the raids, Artem Radchenkov, was the same official who rejected Magnitsky’s mother’s appeals against his posthumous trial.
The interior ministries of both Cyprus and Russia did not return requests for comment.