Tax official blasted over the Magnitsky affair

The Moscow News

A sudden boom in the finances of a former tax official has come under the spotlight as part of a campaign to keep up the pressure on those allegedly involved in the incarceration and subsequent death of Sergey Magnitsky.

Olga Stepanova, a former tax official, and her family members became unwilling stars in a new video, part of the “Stop Untouchable!” campaign. Activists want to get justice for Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in pre-trial detention custody in 2009.

Jamison Firestone, Magnitsky’s former colleague at Firestone Duncan, has filed a claim to the Investigative Committee, calling for a criminal case to be opened against Stepanova, the then head of Moscow’s tax inspectorate no. 28.

Living testimony

The basis of the campaign is a testimony written by Magnitsky who uncovered a fraud scheme which Stepanova was using to embezzle $39 million, campaigners allege, Interfax reported.

Anti-corruption cause célèbre Alexei Navalny wrote in his blog that “every honest citizen has to distribute this video,” which followed two other installments that turned the heat on police officials also supposedly involved in the fraud.

The scheme was based on an “illegal income tax refund”, according to an official statement submitted by Hermitage Capital, the investment fund where Magnitsky was heading an audit.

Fingers in the till

In the end of 2007 Stepanova approved illegal restitution for overpaid taxes by Hermitage’s companies, and 5.4 billion roubles ($190 million) were duly transferred to third party accounts, according to statement by Hermitage Capital.

A question of responsibility

Later Magnitsky was charged with tax evasion as investigators believed he was responsible for the scheme, even though he was the first person to blow the whistle on tax officials reportedly involvement in it.

Magnitskty died in detention in 2009 because he didn’t receive proper medical treatment in Moscow’s Butyrka prison, human rights activists allege. Senior Federal Penitentiary Service officials were sacked after the scandal which erupted after Magnitsky’s death, to be followed by the head of Moscow’s tax crime police department.

None of the staff members of Moscow’s tax inspectorate no.28, including Stepanova, “were charged with criminal liability,” Hermitage’s statement said, Interfax reported.

The notorious Magnitsky case had two more suspects, none of whom lived until the court case came to trial. Investigative Committee representatives say no-one else was involved in the scheme.

However, activists believe that a closer look into the belongings of Stepanova’s family could put investigators back on the right track.

Offshore accounts

Vladlen Stepanov, Stepanova’s husband, founded two companies in Cyprus and the Virgin Islands, which received 7 and 1.4 million euros into their Swiss accounts shortly after the illegal tax transaction was made.

And high-profile property in Dubai, Montenegro and the Moscow region which the family bought, with estimated costs over $25 million, should also be probed, suggest Magnitsky’s lawyers.

The federal tax service refused to comment on Firestone’s claim, gazeta.ru reported, as Stepanova no longer works there.

After an unplanned probed she was informed she was not performing her duties satisfactorily, she resigned shortly after.

Stepanova has featured in the “Magnitsky list” – 60 Russian law enforcement and tax officials who his representatives believe to be somehow responsible for the lawyer’s death. The list has been approved by the International Affairs Committee at the EU Parliament. займы без отказа займы на карту без отказа https://zp-pdl.com/fast-and-easy-payday-loans-online.php https://www.zp-pdl.com hairy girl

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