Russia has never asked Interpol to put Hermitage Capital boss William Browder on an international wanted list as part of a probe into 522 million ruble ($18.6 million) tax evasion probe, Russian Interpol representative Svetlana Zuyeva said on Thursday.
“The Russian Interpol office has never received any notification about putting William Browder on an international wanted list,” Zuyeva said.
The Russian Interpol office statement contradicts a statement by the Russian Interior Ministry’s Investigative Department, which is investigating several tax evasion cases linked to the fund and had previously said it put Browder on a wanted list.
Browder, once the largest portfolio investor in Russia, was banned from Russia in 2005, ostensibly for national security reasons, and now lives in Britain.
According to the investigation, Hermitage Capital established dummy firms in Russia’s Republic of Kalmykia in the late 1990s to trade shares in Russian energy giant Gazprom.
Russian investigators have accused Browder of conspiring with Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in pretrial detention last year, to embezzle funds in tax evasion schemes, but have offered to close the case if he pays the debt voluntarily.
Magnitsky was jailed in 2008 after attempting to defend Hermitage Capital against tax evasion charges.
Magnitsky accused Russian tax and Interior Ministry officials of using Hermitage to carry out a $230 million tax fraud. He died aged 37 from acute heart failure after 11 months in a Moscow pre-trial detention facility.
Magnitsky was kept in appalling conditions and was refused crucial medical treatment in what Hermitage says was an effort to coerce him to admit his role in its alleged tax evasion.