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Hermitage CEO William Browder summoned for questioning in Moscow by investigator implicated in Magnitsky murder

Thursday, May 12, 2011
Russian Interior Ministry investigator Oleg Silchenko, who was responsible for the false arrest, torture and murder in custody of Hermitage Fund’s lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, has issued a summons to question the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, William Browder, in Moscow.

The summons came by fax from Silchenko just two days before the date of the intended questioning. Silchenko’s notice was printed on Russian Interior Ministry letterhead and was faxed to Hermitage’s London office on 10 May, inviting William Browder to appear in Moscow two days later on May 12, at 11 am at the Ministry of Interior Investigative Committee: Office 71, 10/2 B Nikitskaya, Moscow, Russian Federation.

“The notice from Silchenko is absurd. Silchenko is well aware that William Browder was banned from entering the Russian Federation on “national security” grounds. Silchenko is clearly retaliating against Mr Browder’s global campaign to get justice for Sergei Magnitsky and efforts to introduce sanctions against Silchenko and other Russian officials who played a role in Sergei’s, torture and death,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

Silchenko faxed three copies of the same summons, one after the other, at the same time, changing the date on each fax header, to make it appear that they were sent at different dates and times. However, the receipt details from the faxes all show that they were sent on the same day and within minutes of each other.

The notice states Silchenko’s intention to give to Mr Browder the text of an “accusation” and to question Mr Browder. However, none of Mr Browder’s Russian lawyers have been notified of this action in breach of Russian law, which requires the investigator to advise lawyers of any such summons. In his summons, Silchenko has also ignored the Russian legal norms stipulated for questioning UK nationals through the Russian / UK mutual legal assistance treaties.

“The fact that the summons from Moscow to London was sent by fax and with only two days notice, is simply laughable. Silchenko keeps demonstrating his incompetence and inability to work within the law. If Silchenko has any legal questions, we would be delighted to see him in London where we have some legal questions of our own for him,” said a Hermitage Capital representative.

Last week, Silchenko also issued an arrest warrant for another Hermitage Capital executive, Ivan Cherkasov. It is being appealed by Mr Cherkasov’s lawyers as politically motivated, retaliatory and illegitimate.

Silchenko has become famous across Russia and the world for his role in the torture of Mr Magnitsky which included: falsifying evidence, denying him medical care, withholding food and clean water and forbidding him access to his family. These actions were taken in an attempt to force Mr. Magnitsky to retract his testimonies against corrupt Russian officials who he had accused of misappropriating three Hermitage Fund companies, and embezzling $230 million of public taxes. Based on complaints filed by Mr Magnitsky, Silchenko also tried to pressure Mr. Magnitsky to sign a false confession to implicate himself as well as his client, Mr Browder. Three days before his death, Mr. Magnitsky filed a complaint with the courts stating his determination to bring Silchenko, and other officials who falsified his case, to trial.

Since Sergei Magnitsky’s death in custody a year and a half ago, the Moscow Helsinki Group, an independent Russian human rights organisation, has filed criminal complaints against Silchenko for his role in the false arrest, torture and murder of Mr Magnitsky and the cover up of government officials exposed by Magnitsky in corruption.

Last year, Silchenko also falsified evidence against another of Hermitage’s Russian lawyers, Alexander Antipov, in an attempt to arrest him and have him disbarred. These actions were publicly condemned by the Moscow Bar Association.

Last month, members of the Russian president’s Human Rights Council released part of their findings on the Magnitsky case which stated that Mr. Magnitsky was imprisoned by Silchenko on false grounds and that the Interior Ministry and the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), had fabricated the case against him. This is the same case for which Mr Browder is being sought for questioning today.

In spite of Oleg Silchenko’s public record and involvement in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, last year Russian authorities promoted Silchenko and gave him top state honours on the one year anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death.

In 2009, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe concluded in their report on ‘Allegations of Politically-Motivated Abuses of the Criminal Justice System in Council of Europe Members States’, that:

“the proceedings in the Russian Federation against Hermitage executives and lawyers were politically motivated and as such, any request from Russia for mutual legal assistance must be rejected as being contrary to the established legal norms”.

Silchenko’s notice comes weeks after the Swiss General Prosecutor opened, on application from Hermitage Capital, an investigation into money laundering by Russian government officials and their families. These officials were implicated in the theft of Hermitage Fund’s investment companies and $230 million stolen from public funds – crimes uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky and which investigator Silchenko played a key role in concealing.


See our Opalesque BACKSTAGE Video - Bill Browder: Sergey Magnitsky case reveals Russia's ugliest face here: Source


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