Thursday, November 19, 2009

William Browder's attorney, Sergey Magnitsky, found dead in Russian jail

Russia might be in worse shape than we thought.

William Browder, owner of Hermitage Capital, wrote an op/ed in the FT critical of Russia's government.    His lawyer, Magnitsky, was just found dead in a Russian jail.   Here's a quote from the article:
My own case is illustrative of the breakdown of the state in Russia. From 1996 until 2005, I was the largest portfolio investor in the country, with $4bn invested. In November 2005, the government suddenly took my visa away and declared me a “threat to national security”, I believe because I was outspoken about corruption at state-owned companies. This was followed by a cascade of malfeasance so extreme it would make a hardened criminal blush – which I believe was orchestrated by the authorities.

First, the Russian police raided our offices and took all our corporate documents . . .  The criminals used these fake losses to claim a fraudulent refund of $230m of taxes we had paid in 2006, which was paid out to them in just two days. This despite us reporting the unfolding fraud to Russia’s top law enforcement officials 21 days before the tax money was stolen.

Foreign investors get ripped off all the time in many countries. What makes this story unique is the state officials working together to steal $230m from the Russian state itself.  The sharks have started to feed on their own blood.

What makes it even more worrying is that the Russian government took no action to recover the money when we reported the crime. Rather than going after the rogue officials and criminals, the government turned the full weight of the law enforcement apparatus against us for reporting it. They arrested our lawyer, Sergey Magnitsky, who uncovered the tax rebate fraud. He has since been kept in pre-trial detention on cases I believe were fabricated.
How and why did Sergey Magnitsky die?   Russian JOTMAN.COM contributor Sanjuro looks into the matter.

1 comment:

  1. Well, it's the time when, actually being Russian I'm happy that I have my business outside mother-Russia.
    Sergey's case simply show us, that nobody can feel secure working in Russia with large amounts.

    I'm really sorry for the Sergey's family for a loss, as far as I know, Sergey was a good father and a good person at all.

    // Vladimir


Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.