William Browder, head of British investment fund Hermitage Capital, has been sentenced to nine years in prison in absentia by Russia for deliberate bankruptcy, reported Interfax, citing the decision of the Tver Moskovdsky District court.
The Court decided to charge Browder and his partner Ivan Cherkasov, who is also a defendant in the case, for more than 4 billion rubles ($70 million USD) in damages to the aggrieved parties.
Browder's defense indicated that Browder intends to appeal the verdict.
Russia accused Browder and Cherkasov of evading more than three billion rubles in taxes. The Russian investigation believes that they did not remit taxes from several companies, and that they also contributed to their bankruptcy. The circumstances of the case date back to 1996. The aggrieved parties in the case are three branches of the Office of the Federal Tax Service in Moscow.
In 2013, Browder was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia in a tax evasion case amounting to 522 million rubles.
In August 2017, Russia filed a request to Interpol to include Browder on its search list. After that, Browder’s visa to the United States was revoked. He was later allowed to enter the country. Browder himself called the request for his detantion "fake” and Interpol later dismissed the detention request.
Browder was one of the sponsors for the adoption of the Magnitsy Act in the US and Canada. The act prohibits the entry of individuals whom the authorities of these countries believe are involved in human rights violations. The bill is named in honor of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who co-founded the Hermitage Capital company with Browder. Magnitsky died in a Russian detention facility in 2009. In 2008, Magnitsky announced the theft of more than 5 billion rubles ($90 million USD) by Russian officials; he was then arrested for tax evasion.