Police ‘ignored dossier in dead Russian witness case’: ‘Victim’ accuses City force, FSA and SFO of inaction Agencies ‘given evidence before unexplained death’

The Guardian

Police and anti-fraud agencies have been criticised by the alleged victim of a multimillion-pound fraud for ignoring dossiers of evidence – including death threats and intimidation – linking the crime with the UK, months before a witness connected to the case was found dead.

The body of Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, was found outside his Surrey home on 10 November. His death is described as “unexplained” following two postmortems, with toxicology tests to come.

He was a key witness in a case involving the theft of pounds 140m in tax revenue from the Russian government. The alleged fraudsters are said to have stolen three companies from a UK-based investment firm, Hermitage Capital, and used them to perpetrate the fraud – leaving Hermitage in the frame for the criminal acts.

The case is known as the “Magnitsky case”, after one of Hermitage’s Russian lawyers, Sergei Magnitsky, who was found dead in a Russian prison in 2009 with his body showing signs of torture.

A motion from the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe said Magnitsky had been “killed . . . while in pre-trial detention in Moscow after he refused to change his testimony”.

Bill Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital, has been trying to secure convictions for the death of Magnitsky, as well as those implicated in the alleged fraud against his company, for four years. Documents seen by the Guardian show that in January and February Browder’s lawyers passed a criminal complaint to the City of London police, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

The complaint alleged Britain had ties to the alleged criminal conspiracy from its earliest stages: a UK citizen, Stephen John Kelly, served as a nominee, or “sham” director, for British Virgin Islands-based companies involved in liquidating the companies used to claim the allegedly fraudulent tax refunds. Separately, crucial evidence, used as a pretext to raid offices in Russia, was couriered from UK soil.

And the complaint alleged lawyers working in the UK for Hermitage had been subject to death threats by phone, and intimidation via surveillance of offices.

Hermitage claim the alleged theft of the companies was carried out using documents taken from their offices in a police raid, then “representatives” of the companies engaged in elaborate steps to secure a tax rebate of about pounds 140m. The three firms, now with no assets and more than pounds 600m of debts, were then sold on and liquidated via the British Virgin Islands.

The Tory MP Dominic Raab wrote to the same police and anti-fraud agencies again in August also encouraging an investigation, after being contacted by Hermitage.

Raab had previously urged action in the House of Commons against individuals allegedly implicated in Magnitsky’s death, mirroring a US bill that was formally passed by the Senate on Thursday.

Raab also informed the Home Office last month that one of the alleged leaders of the Russian criminal gang had apparently travelled to the UK on two occasions in 2008, despite having previous convictions in relation to a multimillion-pound fraud, and asked them to investigate. He also passed details of 60 individuals allegedly involved in the plot to UK authorities to assist in monitoring of their movements.

Raab said the lack of information from any UK authorities was troubling.

“The first thing is, we don’t know about Perepilichnyy and his cause of death,” he said. “But we do know there was some sort of hit-list in Russia with his name on it and he’s obviously given evidence in these money-laundering proceedings.

“I think the key thing is the Home Office give the police all the support they can. At the moment, there’s a lack of transparency, it’s very difficult to know. We’ve got no idea if anything’s been actioned, or even how many people linked to the case have been travelling in and out of Britain. We just don’t know.”

City of London police said they had met Hermitage but had found “no evidence of criminality in the UK” and it “would be taking no further action”.

The SFO, FSA and SOCA declined to comment, citing policies barring them from confirming or denying the existence of any specific investigations. A spokesman for the Home Office confirmed they had been contacted by Raab and were looking into his queries, but said they did not comment on individual visa cases. онлайн займ payday loan www.zp-pdl.com https://zp-pdl.com/get-a-next-business-day-payday-loan.php unshaven girl

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One Response to “Police ‘ignored dossier in dead Russian witness case’: ‘Victim’ accuses City force, FSA and SFO of inaction Agencies ‘given evidence before unexplained death’”

  1. Dawn says:

    Investigations are not the fastest in the US, but at least they exist & key witnesses tend to get the protection they need. The UK can’t have it’s cake & eat it, too. The UK cannot be a ROC playground & expect it’s reputable businesses to continue to keep HQ in the UK. The House of Commons is treating Raab like ROC is just his fight. The House of Commons is making its choice. It is choosing ROC tourist dollars at the cost of a more reliable tax base. It appears Raab is the only MP with a “level head” that realizes legitimate lucrative businesses will leave a London with a business climate mimicking that of Russia’s.

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