The Great Debate UK
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.