Investigation is considering the possibility lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was poisoned with a chemical agent created for sabotage, Russian Prosecutor General’s Office spokesman Mikhail Alexandrov told a news briefing on Monday.
"There is evidence indicating that the deaths (of Magnitsky and William Browder’s other partners) were violent ones. One of the lines of inquiry is he was poisoned with chemical agents used for sabotage. These substances contain an aluminum compound. They caused acute liver failure that looked like death by natural causes," Alexandrov said. "When he received from Magnitsky a false statement of provocative nature, Browder was interested in his death more than anybody else,” TASS quoted Alexandrov as saying.
"Forensic examination of biological samples taken from (Browder’s partners) Gasanov, Korobeinikov, Kurochkin and Magnitsky makes it possible to conclude that the mentioned persons had symptoms of chronic poisoning with toxic, soluble inorganic substances introduced into their bodies."
Alexandrov said that Russia had not conducted detailed examination of such substances yet.
"Detailed analysis and science information indicate that toxicological research into aluminum compounds have been carried out for several decades only at research centers in such countries as the United States, France and Italy," he said. "Such compounds can be made only in special laboratories."
Russia’s Investigative Committee is now probing into the possibility of Magnitsky’s intentional poisoning, Alexandrov added.
Russian investigators have opened a criminal investigation against American-born British financier William Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital Management, over setting up a criminal network, Adviser to Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office Nikolai Atmonyev said on Monday.
"On November 16, an order was issued on launching a criminal case against Browder over the signs of establishing a criminal network and being its leader, this means the signs of a crime under Part 1 of Article 210 of the Russian Criminal Code," Atmonyev said.
According to the adviser, Browder’s charges fall within the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. "Under Article 16 of this convention the handover [of defendant] is possible even in those cases when the countries, which solve the issue on extradition, don’t have a bilateral agreement on the handover," he said.
Russia’s Prosecutor-General’s Office and the investigative bodies have been carrying out a lengthy criminal prosecution against Browder and members of a transnational criminal network, which he heads. This criminal network was set up in 1997 and is still operating, and its goal is to commit grave economic crimes, the adviser said.
Atmonyev said William Browder will be placed on an international wanted list and his property will be confiscated under new criminal charges of setting up a criminal network.
"Browder will be put on an international wanted list with the aim of detaining and extraditing him," Atmonyev said, noting that his assets would be frozen, including those formally owned by his authorized representatives and the firms controlled by him.
"A whole network of companies and credit institutions has been uncovered in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland, which were used to funnel money and cash large sums valued at amounts ranging from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars," he noted.
Browder has been twice sentenced in Russia in absentia. On July 11, 2013, Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court found Browder guilty in absentia of large-scale tax evasion (estimated at 522 mln rubles - $8 mln) and sentenced him to nine years in prison. He was also deprived of the right to do business for two years.
In July 2014, Russia put Browder on an international wanted list. The Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office has many times requested Interpol to arrest Browder. The latest news about such a request came in December 2017.
On December 29, 2018 Moscow’s Tverskoy Court sentenced Browder in absentia to nine years in prison, finding him guilty of tax evasion to the tune of more than 3 billion rubles ($45.5 mln) and premeditated bankruptcy. Ivan Cherkasov, Browder’s business partner, was sentenced to the same term. The court ruled to satisfy a civil lawsuit against the defendants and ordered them to pay 4.2 billion rubles ($64 mln). The court also banned them from doing business in Russia for three years.