Revealed: Russian spy agency linked to dead lawyer

 

Russia's spy agency authorised a raid on a British investment firm in Moscow that led to a massive tax scam by allegedly corrupt officials and the death of a lawyer who tried to expose the fraud, new papers show. Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow-based lawyer, died in November 2009 during pre-trial detention after he was arrested by a group of officials who were being investigated for tax fraud. No one has been imprisoned for his death.

Instead prosecutors have begun a posthumous investigation against Mr Magnitsky and Bill Browder, the British founder of the London-based hedge fund Hermitage Capital, which has campaigned to bring to justice those responsible for the lawyer's death. Mr Browder said the government's investigation against him for an alleged 2001 tax evasion, which he denies, has resulted in a series of previously undisclosed criminal case files being released to the public for the first time.

Among the 70 evidence files that have been handed to his lawyers are at least three bundles containing memos from the FSB, Russia's spy agency. Mr Browder says the files show how the agency's anti-fraud department – known as Department K – played a key role in beginning the investigation into Hermitage, as a result of which the company became the victim of a $230m tax fraud.

Mr Browder told The Independent: "The FSB always operated in a closed system and they never anticipated that giving us access to the criminal case files would open up a Pandora's box and allow everybody to take a look at the criminality that pervades the entire Russian government."

Mr Browder claims that the documents show how on 22 May 2007 the head of Department K, General Viktor Voronin, signed off on a raid by Ministry of Interior officials against the offices of Hermitage and its law firm in Moscow. During that raid, two vans full of documents and company seals were seized as evidence. Unbeknown to Hermitage these were later used to transfer three subsidiary companies out of their possession. The new owner of the companies then applied for a tax rebate worth $230m.

The new documents also shed light on the whereabouts of those seals during the period in between when the raid and the fraud took place. One memo, dated 23 October 2007, states that the company seals had been transferred to Department K for "analysis". The seals were used to fraudulently transfer the three companies away from Hermitage just two months later, although there is no evidence in the documents that FSB officials from Department K took part in the fraud.

Before his arrest Sergei Magnitsky had blamed a network of allegedly corrupt Ministry of Interior officials for the scam, many of whom had relatives who had suddenly grown inexplicably rich. These officials had him arrested and he died one year later.

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Bristol

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Teacher

£130 - £131 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Ks1 teacher required for m...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

MI Analyst and SQL Developer (SQL, SSAS, SSRS)

£28000 - £32500 Per Annum + 28 days holiday, pension, discounts and more: Clea...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?