A group of Russian senators have presented previously unpublished documents to their U.S. counterparts which they claim prove the involvement of the late lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in tax fraud.
Vladimir Malkin, a Russian senator who is on a visit to the United States with a group of colleagues, said they had presented documents to the American senators from the Prosecutor’s Office, the Federal Tax Service and the Investigative Committee, proving Magnitsky had not received decent medical treatment in a pre-trial detention facility, though he had been put in custody legally.
“It is admitted that he [Magnitsky] was not provided with the proper medical assistance. The doctor who was in charge of his treatment had no right to do it since she was an epidemiologist,” Malkin said.
Malkin claimed, however, that the British investment fund Hermitage Capital, for whom Magnitsky worked until his death in 2009, paid only five percent income tax instead of the 35 percent rate paid by foreign companies working in Russia.
“It means that William Browder [Hermitage Capital’s CEO] has stolen a colossal sum of money from the Russian budget,” Malkin said. Browder was accused by the Russian authorities of underpaying more than two billion rubles ($72 million) in back taxes and was banned from entering Russia on national security grounds in 2006.
Browder has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and maintains he was banned for criticizing corruption among officials in Russian state companies.
The Russian senators, who met in Washington with the U.S. top congressmen, were denied a meeting with Ben Cardin, the author of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2011, which will penalize Russian officials linked with Magnitsky's jailing and death, as well as other human rights abusers in Russia.
Malkin dismissed the allegation that Magnitsky had been arrested because he had uncovered a high-profile corruption ring among Russian tax and security officials, calling it “complete nonsense.”
“He was arrested in a strict compliance with law…there should have been at least ten people who should have been arrested in connection with this case,” Malkin said, adding all the members of Browder’s team except Magnitsky managed to escape Russia when the tax evasion case was opened.
Magnitsky was arrested in November 2008, days after accusing police investigators and tax ministry officials of involvement in a $230 million tax refund fraud. He claimed that some of the law enforcement officials involved in the fraud were the same people responsible for arresting him.
He died after almost a year in a pre-trial detention center in Moscow.
A probe into his death revealed that the lawyer, who was suffering from untreated pancreatitis and a heart condition, did not receive proper medical treatment. Rights activists pointed to multiple violations of his rights during his arrest and detention, including signs that he was beaten by prison guards hours before his death.