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Russia may order arrest of Hermitage Capital CEO - paper

MOSCOW, May 5 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Investigative Committee may soon order the arrest of Hermitage Capital head William Browder amid a controversial tax evasion case that led to the death in custody of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, Kommersant daily reported on Thursday.

On Wednesday a Moscow court ordered the arrest in absentia of Ivan Cherkasov, the former head of Hermitage Capital's Moscow office. The British Investment Fund is accused of underpaying some 2 billion rubles ($72 million) in taxes in 2006.

Browder, once one of the most successful western investors in Moscow, was expelled from Russia in 2005 for national security reasons. Both he and Cherkasov are now living in Britain.

Kommersant said Russia would seek the extradition of both defendants and would prosecute them in absentia if Britain refused.

Magnitsky was jailed in 2008 after being charged with tax evasion linked to his defense of Hermitage Capital.

The lawyer accused Russian tax and Interior Ministry officials of using documents seized form Hermitage's subsidiaries to register their own people as owners and directors and file a false tax claim to embezzle $230 million.

He died aged 37 from acute heart failure after 11 months in a Moscow pre-trial detention facility.

Magnitsky was kept in appalling conditions and was refused crucial medical treatment in what Hermitage says was an effort to coerce him to admit his role in its alleged tax evasion.


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