Russia Says New Fraud Charges Against Browder

Wall Street Journal

Russian authorities announced new fraud charges against U.S.-born investor William Browder, escalating pressure in a politically charged case that has fueled tensions between Moscow and the West.

The new charges come as a Moscow court is set to begin hearings in a rare posthumous trial of Mr. Browder’s former lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, on tax-evasion allegations next week.

Mr. Magnitsky died in a Moscow jail in 2009 after exposing what he and Mr. Browder claimed was a $230 million fraud perpetrated against the Russian government by senior police and security officials. A Kremlin human rights commission said in 2011 that Mr. Magnitsky was beaten and deliberately denied medical treatment, leading to his death. Russian authorities deny any wrongdoing and lower-level prison officials charged in the case have been acquitted.

The U.S. government, pushing for a full investigation of his death and the corruption allegations, passed a law known as the “Magnitsky Act” last year that imposes visa bans and asset freezes on Russian officials allegedly implicated in the case and other violations of human rights. The law triggered some of the worst tensions in years between Moscow and Washington. The Kremlin denounced the measure as unjustified interference in Russia’s affairs and retaliated by banning adoption of Russian children by Americans.

Mr. Browder, a U.K. citizen, is now pushing for passage of similar restrictions in Europe. He said Tuesday the new charges were “retaliation” for his global campaign. A Russian Interior Ministry spokesman denied that. Officials said they would seek his extradition to Russia, though so far western law-enforcement agencies haven’t cooperated in the probes.

Once one of the largest foreign investors in Russia, Mr. Browder was stripped of his Russian visa in 2005 and rapidly pulled out his fund’s investments.

The new charges announced Tuesday cover his fund’s holdings of shares in OAO Gazprom, OGZPY -1.26% the natural gas monopoly. The Interior Ministry Tuesday accused him of illegally acquiring 131 million shares of the company between 1999 and 2004. At that time, foreigners required special permission to own the locally traded stock, which was priced far lower than the shares available outside Russia.

Mikhail Alexandrov, a senior Interior Ministry official, told a news conference that Mr. Browder sought not only “personal enrichment” but also “strategic penetration and subsequent influence on the Russian gas monopoly.” He said preliminary estimates put the damage done to the Russian government at more than 3 billion rubles ($97.5 million).

Mr. Browder’s fund Tuesday dismissed the allegations as “spurious and without any foundation,” noting that its ownership structures were legal and approved by Russian regulators at the time. Many major foreign investors in Russia used similar mechanisms to buy the locally traded Gazprom shares before the government lifted the trading restrictions in 2005.

Until he was forced out of Russia, Mr. Browder was one of the largest foreign investors in Gazprom and led a public push to improve transparency and financial performance at the company, including unsuccessful efforts to win a seat on the board of directors. unshaven girls hairy girl https://www.zp-pdl.com https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php payday loan

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One Response to “Russia Says New Fraud Charges Against Browder”

  1. Dawn says:

    I’m humored that the Russians are pursuing this because of the time period involved. While looking for more ethically palatable financing than the 100+% financing being offered by the Russian government for what National Institute of Standards & Technology calls “smart wallet,” I met an entrepreneur around 2003-4 at a venture capital event held by Grant Thornton. I have a friend that at the time ran a venture capital fund. Smart wallet did not fall within the investment guidelines. The fund was for early-early financing (I’d already personally handled that to 2 proof of concept prototype demo systems) or late-late financing…just before realizing an edit strategy . I introduced the entrepreneur to my friend. The entrepreneur is an engineer & had designed a more efficient (cost effective) & cleaner method to drill oil from shale. The entrepreneur was looking for funding to build a $1 million prototype. Energy at the time was cheap, investment firms considered investment in alternative methods to conventional drilling would yield low returns on investment…my friend struck down financing the young venture. A No investment firms except Hermitage had much interest in investing in energy at all. The entrepreneur eventually found an Australian financier about 2 years later. The fact is that for the timeframe involved in the newer charges energy was cheap & the Russian government is greatly inflating the value of the Gazprom shares at the time. Taking out the risk associated with an investment being in Russia, investors still had little interest in investing in energy even in the US that is considered far more politically stable.

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