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In Russia, Britains resident William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, was charged in absentia with non-payment of taxes and added to the wanted list.
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Apr. 03, 2008
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Enforcement Bodies Looking for an Investor
Russias enforcement bodies charged in absentia Britains resident William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, with non-payment of taxes and added him to the wanted list. Manager of Russias office of that fund, Ivan Cherkasov, is searched for on similar count. The lawyers of businessmen appealed both the initiation of proceedings and the respective investigation, to no avail though.
The writ for holding to account Hermitage Capital Management CEO William Browder on count of large-scale tax evasion (imprisonment of up to six years) was signed by the officer of Interior Ministrys Investigating Department for Central Federal District. The detectives incriminated a similar crime to Ivan Cherkasov, chief of Russias office of Hermitage Capital. Neither the accused nor their lawyers were present during the investigative action.

Cherkasov fled from Russia far back past summer after the first raids against Hermitage Capital, while Browder hasnt appeared in the country since 2005, when his Russias visa was annulled for reasons unknown. Nevertheless, the investigators added both businessmen to the federal wanted list and will seek the court sanction for their absentee arrest. These efforts are required to add them to the international wanted list.

The detectives say Cherkasovs involvement in tax evasion was determined during the probe into OOO Kameya, which drew their attention in May of 2007. Founded by OOO Baikal-M and a Cyprus offshore, that company had been buying the stocks of Russias blue chips of strategic significance (Gazprom, Surgutneftegaz, Rosneft, etc.). Here, the firms with the foreign ownership of above 51 percent had been prohibited to directly acquire the stocks till 2006.

The Cyprus offshore became the sole founder of Kameya after the market liberalization of 2006. It committed Kameya to sell the stocks of Russias issuers to another offshore of Cyprus. Kameya paid the generated money to the founder as dividend, while Russias budget received no more than 5 percent in taxes instead of between 15 percent and 24 percent as required by laws.

Hermitage Capital was behind the deal, the investigators insist, pointing out Ivan Cherkasov, manager of Russias office of Hermitage Capital, was the actual chief of Kameya, Baikal-M and two Cyprus offshores.

The pattern was applied to roughly 20 firms operating in Moscow, Kalmykia, the Chita region, Buryatia and other regions of Russia, and William Browder was involved in their creation or acquisition. According to preliminary data of investigators, Russia suffered tax losses of over 4 billion rubles as a result of the actions of Browder and Cherkasov.

All the Article in Russian as of Apr. 03, 2008

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