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A new twist in a Russian scandal

The Russian Interior Ministry is about to seek the arrest of William Browder, the chief executive of Hermitage Capital Management, for illegally evading taxes. That’s according to a front-page article in the Russian newspaper Kommersant, a leading political-economic daily.

Browder, a British and US citizen who resides in London, has been denied entry into Russia ever since 2005, when his visa was annulled for obscure reasons. His Hermitage Fund, managed by the British bank HSBC, was once the largest portfolio investor in Russia, but has more recently been embroiled in a series of interconnected scandals.

Today’s newspaper article, based on anonymous sources within the Russian police, is evidently the latest shot in a long-running media war that has pitched Hermitage against elements of the Russian police. Over the last year and a half, the British investment fund has made a series of sensational allegations, claiming that senior Russian police officers were involved in a corruption scam designed to fleece the Russian budget of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Following these claims, Russian authorities have been busy upping the pressure against the Fund. A lawyer working for Hermitage in Russia, Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested last November, and his trial in Moscow is due to begin shortly. Today’s Kommersant article lays out the case that the police intend to bring against Magnitsky, which relates to alleged underpayment of taxes by two Hermitage subsidiaries several years ago.

A Goldman trading scandal?

Did someone try to steal Goldman Sachs’ secret sauce?

While most in the US were celebrating the 4th of July, a Russian immigrant living in New Jersey was being held on federal charges of stealing top-secret computer trading codes from a major New York-based financial institution—that sources say is none other than Goldman Sachs.

The allegations, if true, are big news because the codes the accused man, Sergey Aleynikov, tried to steal is the secret code to unlocking Goldman’s automated stocks and commodities trading businesses. Federal authorities allege the computer codes and related-trading files that Aleynikov uploaded to a German-based website help this major “financial institution” generate millions of dollars in profits each year.

Allen Stanford’s many lives

The clock is still ticking on what would appear to be an inevitable indictment for disgraced Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, the man who allegedly ran an $8 billion Ponzi scheme out of his Antigua-based bank. It appears the federal prosecutors manning the investigation are trying to make sure they have an airtight case before filing criminal charges–something Stanford and his lawyer expect will happen any day.

At first blush, it’s hard to fathom why it should take this long for prosecutors to file charges, given that Stanford and two of his top associates were the subject of a civil action by the Securities and Exchange Commission nearly three months ago. One of those associates, Laura Pendergest-Holt, has even been indicted on federal obstruction of justice charges. But still nothing on Stanford.

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