Posts Tagged ‘Anna Shiryaevskaya’

March 2013

Russia Opens Case Into Browder’s Hermitage Buying Gazprom Stock


Russia opened a criminal case into purchases of OAO Gazprom (GAZP) stock by Hermitage Capital Management Ltd. as prosecutors prepare for the trial of the fund’s founder and his dead legal adviser on tax-fraud charges.

Hermitage head William Browder is accused of illegally buying about 131.6 million Gazprom shares for about 2.1 billion rubles ($70 million) at a time when foreign ownership of the world’s biggest natural-gas producer was restricted, Mikhail Alexandrov, head of the Interior ministry’s investigative directorate for organized crime and corruption, said today on state television.

“Buying Gazprom shares through derivative structures was entirely legal,” Browder said by phone today, adding that neither he nor Hermitage has been notified of the case.

The accusations follow separate tax evasion charges brought against Browder, a British citizen whose London-based fund was once the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia. Browder, who has been barred from entering Russia since 2005 as a security threat to the state, is being tried in absentia on the same accusations made against Sergei Magnitsky, a Hermitage tax and legal adviser who died in a Moscow prison in 2009. Magnitsky’s family has said the posthumous trial is “politically motivated.”
Browder attempted to use share ownership to exert influence on the company, Alexandrov said. He estimated the damage to the government at no less than 3 billion rubles.

Buying and trading shares of Gazprom by foreigners was restricted before the state raised its ownership in the gas producer to more than 50 percent in 2005. Russia had banned foreigners from holding more than 20 percent of the stock and restricted them to American depositary receipts.

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