Tverskoi District Court has sentenced Hermitage Capital co-founder and CEO
William Browder to 9 years in prison after finding him guilty of tax evasion in
addition, the court closed the case against Hermitage Capital auditor Sergei
Magnitsky, who died at a detention center in 2009. Because he has also been
found guilty of tax evasion, the court denied his rehabilitation.
to Judge Igor Alisov, who presided over the hearing, the Browder-Magnitsky
trial is justified and legal despite the fact that one of the defendants didn’t
attend the hearing and the other was dead.
Opinion: Magnitsky-Browder trial: Prosecuting Dead Souls
claimed that his criminal prosecution was a repressive measure and did not
plead guilty. At the same time, Magnitsky’s guilt was confirmed by the evidence
examined in the proceedings,” the sentence read.
questioned the testimony Magnitsky gave during the pretrial investigation, in
which he stated that the company was granted tax breaks legally and that it
actually did employ people with disabilities, who were paid salaries.
to the prosecutor, as an auditor Magnitsky invented a scheme to evade taxes
following Browder’s instructions, and the latter was aware of the tax breaks
the firm had been granted unlawfully and signed fake documents.
source said earlier that if Browder were to be convicted, Russia would
immediately send an extradition request to the United Kingdom.
as Browder is convicted and the sentence takes legal effect, [Russia] will send
an inquiry to London, where he is actually residing, to demand his extradition to
enforce the court ruling,” the source said. “The Western justice
system is usually very skeptical about extradition requests from investigative
bodies, but treats inquiries that are based on court rulings with great
soon as a sentence is handed down on the American businessman in absentia, his
international legal status will change significantly,” the source added. Browder
will be put on the international “wanted” list and this will significantly
limit his ability to move around the world, the source claimed.
attorney for Magnitsky’s mother considers the auditor’s trial and conviction on
tax evasion charges unlawful.
see the proceedings as unlawful, we are not participating in them, and I will
not comment on it,” lawyer Nikolai Gorokhov, representing Magnitsky’s
mother, told Interfax.
At the same
time, the prosecution is satisfied with the conviction of Magnitsky and
prosecution is content with the judgment and it complies with the law,”
Prosecutor Mikhail Reznichenko told journalists.
opinion, the case against Magnitsky was justifiably heard in his absence, as
his relatives disagreed with closing the case for non-rehabilitation reasons.
though they did not formally ask for the investigation to be reopened, the
prosecution perceived numerous interviews by his relatives, in which they insisted
on his innocence, as such a desire.
said that, as a court earlier sanctioned Browder’s arrest in absentia, he would
be arrested immediately upon crossing the Russian border.
District Court took up the case against Browder and Magnitsky on December 10,
2012. The two had been indicted on charges of tax evasion amounting to over 522
million rubles ($16 million) obtained through the falsification of tax
declarations and illegally taking advantage of tax breaks intended for the
to the court’s statement, Browder had to be tried in absentia “as he is
showing reluctance to appear before the investigative body, and the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has refused to uphold
international legal cooperation norms with Russia on this matter.”
died at a Moscow pretrial detention facility on November 16, 2009.
The tax evasion
case against Magnitsky was closed but later reopened based on a Constitutional
Court ruling to the effect that the closure of the case was unconstitutional
and violated the presumption of the innocence principle.
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Constitutional Court ruled that the case must be reopened if the defendants’
representatives so demand. Attorneys for Magnitsky’s mother protested the
reopening of the case, arguing that this was not done at their request.
Ostankinsky Court ruled on April 3, 2013, that the reopening of the criminal
case against Magnitsky was legal even though the defendant was dead.
took into account that, in making this decision, the Prosecutor General’s Office
had been motivated by numerous complaints by Magnitsky’s mother in her
interviews with the press, during which she insisted on her son’s legal
rehabilitation. The Moscow City Court upheld this decision and ignored the
complaint made by Magnitsky’s family.
The story is based on materials