Hermitage Capital Chief Sarcastic About Russian Moves to Get Him Arrested

LONDON. May 12 (Interfax) - The head of British investment fund Hermitage Capital, Bill Browder, on Thursday jeered at a move made by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Interior Ministry allegedly in preparation for is seeking an in absentia arrest warrant for him.

One of the Investigative Committee investigators, Oleg Silchenko, on Thursday sent Browder, who lives in London, a fax with an official letterhead summoning the Hermitage chief him to his office for an interview on Friday, Browder told Interfax.

Browder claimed that Silchenko realized that the Hermitage head would never arrive and that this would authorize him to seek a court order to arrest him.

However, Silchenko broke the law by failing to notify Browder's lawyers about this and to seek permission for investigation on the territory of a foreign state, Browder said. Silchenko also changed the date that was automatically printed on the fax.

Moreover, Browder said, Silchenko had failed to notify him about any criminal proceedings against Hermitage for many years.

Browder said numerous independent inquiries had confirmed that officials heading the Interior Ministry Investigative Committee and officials under their command had been committing crimes.

He accused them of illegally seizing Hermitage documents in order to expropriate Hermitage companies and steal 5.4 billion rubles from the state.

He said he and his colleagues are being persecuted by Interior Ministry officials whom they have implicated in stealing state money. He denied that Hermitage had ever evaded any taxes and said their alleged tax arrears were a concoction by Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB) officials.

He blamed corrupt officials for the death of Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was investigating an alleged fraud by tax officials and died in jail in November 2009 after allegedly being denied essential treatment for serious illnesses.

Browder said such officials pose a threat to society in general, to him and other Hermitage executives who are involved in an international campaign to have them brought to justice.

The Investigative Committee has said it is investigating tax evasion charges against Browder and his partner Ivan Cherkasov.

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