Alexander Kurennoi, official spokesperson of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, said that Moscow would like to question certain US officials and intelligence officers as part of the case against Hermitage Capital founder William Browder, RIA Novosti reports.
Kurennoi mentioned several names: Homeland Security Department official Todd Hyman, CIA agent Jim Rote, former deputy intelligence agency director Robert Otto, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, Jonathan Wiener – a former assistant to US Secretary of State John Kerry, and others. These people are believed to be connected to Browder – Jim Rote is called Browden’s “financial manager”, and Wiener supposedly lobbied in favor of Browder’s interests.
Under McFaul’s leadership, the US State Department supposedly “compiled reports from Moscow on the investigation into the Magnitsky case”, Kurennoi explained.
Russian courts have sentenced Browder twice in absentia for financial machinations and tax evasion. His fund invested in the Russian economy between 1995 and 2006. In 2005, he was banned from entering Russia, and in 2007, Russian authorities searched Hermitage Capital. Russia has attempted to place Browder on the international wanted list, but its requests have been declined. In June this year, Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said that Russia would not let Browder “sleep in peace”.
In 2008, Hermitage Capital’s auditor Sergei Magnitsky was arrested on fabricated charges of complicity in tax evasion. Magnitsky died on November 16, 2009, in a pre-trial detention center in Moscow. Magnitsky claimed to have uncovered a scheme to embezzle more than 11 billion rubles from the budget, and that taxes paid by Hermitage Capital were among those funds. Browder has publicly connected Magnitsky’s death to his exposé of the scheme.
Following the auditor’s death, the US adopted the “Magnitsky Act”, which enables Washington to place sanctions on persons believed to be guilty of human rights violations. Analogous laws were subsequently passed by several other western countries.