Briton uses YouTube to accuse Russian tax official of £25m fraud

The Sunday Times

A leading British investor has accused a Russian official and her husband of embezzling more than £25m (€29m) through their part in a scam that led to the theft of three of his companies and the largest tax fraud in Russia’s history.

William Browder, a British citizen born in America who has been barred from Russia since 2005, has gathered evidence that, he claims, shows a senior Moscow tax official and her husband went on a multimillion-pound spending spree, despite earning a combined annual salary of only £25,000.

It happened after interior ministry officials allegedly stole three companies from Hermitage Capital, Browder’s London-based investment fund, and used them to apply for a fraudulent £140m tax rebate, which was paid in a single day.

Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer employed by Browder who uncovered the scam and reported it to the authorities, was arrested and died in custody in 2009 after being denied medical help.

In a campaign to bring those responsible for Magnitsky’s death to justice, Browder has assembled a team of lawyers, private investigators and lobbyists. The evidence they have amassed implicates a senior official in the tax office that approved the fraudulent rebate in 2007.

In documents made public in a documentary posted on YouTube, it is alleged that after the £140m payment was made, the official’s husband, who works for a building firm, opened bank accounts in Switzerland.

Nearly £7m in transfers are said to have followed. According to the team’s evidence, the couple then bought a plot in one of Moscow’s most expensive suburbs.

The land, which is worth about £7m, was registered in the name of the woman’s 85-year-old mother-in-law.

The couple are said to have hired one of Russia’s most expensive architects to build a £5m house on the land.

Browder alleges that the couple made down-payments to develop a seaside property in Montenegro and flew nine times to Dubai.

There, he claims, they bought a seven-room villa on the Palm Jumeirah archipelago.

It is thought to be worth £1.8m. They also made down-payments totalling £1.7m to buy two flats there.

“After the fraudulent tax rebate,” says the commentary in the documentary, the couple “had a total undeclared income of $38.9m (€27.5m) or 1,013 years of their official declared income.”

Two of the official’s deputies are also alleged to have bought properties in Dubai. “This is a large gang of corrupt police and tax officers,” said Browder, who has received threats from Russia.

The Swiss authorities have frozen the couple’s accounts and launched a money-laundering inquiry, he says.

Browder’s team, which includes many of Magnitsky’s friends and colleagues, has previously released documents alleging that police officers who were accused by the lawyer of involvement in the scam and his subsequent arrest bought luxury cars and apartments.

Magnitsky was arrested in November 2008 on trumped-up tax evasion charges. He developed pancreatitis in jail. In what his friends and family say was an attempt to coerce him into withdrawing his accusations against police officers, the lawyer was denied medical help.

When Magnitsky’s condition worsened, he was transferred to another Moscow prison, supposedly to receive treatment. Instead, he was put in a straitjacket in an isolation cell, where he died of heart failure the same day.

The Kremlin has since fired several prison officials. However, despite promises of an investigation, the interior ministry has presented service awards to several investigators implicated by Magnitsky’s friends in his arrest and death.

Russian prosecutors concede that the fraudulent tax rebate was paid, but say the officials who authorised it were tricked. There has been no official response to the evidence uncovered by Browder’s team.

“Eventually those in power will realise that the damage to Russia’s image is too great for them to ignore this,” said Browder. “We won’t stop until justice is done. It’s the least we can do to honour Sergei Magnitsky’s memory.” займ на карту онлайн hairy girl https://zp-pdl.com/get-a-next-business-day-payday-loan.php https://zp-pdl.com/fast-and-easy-payday-loans-online.php займ онлайн

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