Diplomatic row looms as Russia investigates UK hedge fund
Russian officers leading a discredited investigation into a British-based hedge fund have switched their inquiries to London, threatening to provoke a diplomatic row.
The case has been blamed for the death of an anti-corruption lawyer who was imprisoned after accusing Russian government officials and others of theft and tax fraud.
Sergei Magnitsky, 37, a lawyer commissioned by Hermitage Capital Management to defend allegations of tax evasion, was awaiting trial for alleged conspiracy when he died of heart failure last year at Matrosskaya Tishina detention centre in Moscow, after being denied access to medicine. This prompted an international outcry.
Now the Interior Ministry has won a court order to secure a search warrant of the London address of an unnamed senior Hermitage executive. It is also seeking help from Interpol to trace six Hermitage-linked lawyers who left Moscow and are now in London.
Hermitage said it had also received an order signed by Major Oleg Silchenko of the Russian Federal Interior Ministry seeking the arrest in absentia of senior Hermitage executive Ivan Cherkasov, who is also in London. Major Silchenko led the investigation and 12-month detention without trial of Mr Magnitsky, the firm said. Bill Browder, chief executive of Hermitage, said the Russian authorities are continuing their "attack" on his executives and lawyers in retaliation for the criminal complaints filed by Mr Magnitsky and Hermitage about the involvement of Russian government officials and others in tax fraud.
Last year, a damning report by the Council of Europe condemned the investigation. The Council, of which Russia is a permanent member, said the proceedings targeting Hermitage Capital executives represent an "emblematic case" of the politically motivated abuse of the criminal justice system, and called on all member states to deny any Russian Federation requests for mutual legal assistance targeting Hermitage Capital executives and lawyers.
Mr Browder said: "If Major Silchenko seriously thinks he can come to London and try the same thing here, he will find himself in a legal mess so large, he will need a very good lawyer for a very long time."
Oleg Sepelev, of the Russian embassy, said he could neither confirm nor deny the request to extend to the Hermitage investigation to London.
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Lana Del Rey: 'I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry'
Peaches Geldof cause of death: 'Heroin addict' socialite had taken fatal dose of drug, inquest concludes
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Was a Russian-made missile really parked in this quiet square?
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...