MOSCOW, Dec 29 (Reuters) - A Russian court on Friday sentenced British investment fund head William Browder to nine years in prison in absentia after finding him guilty of deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion, the country’s general prosecutor said.
Browder, the head of investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, led an international campaign to expose corruption and punish Russian officials he blames for the 2009 death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison.
Browder did not immediately react to Friday’s ruling but has dismissed Russian authorities’ past allegations against him.
Magnitsky, who alleged that Russian officials were involved in large-scale tax fraud, died after a year in jail during which he said he was mistreated and denied medical care in an effort to get him to confess to tax evasion and give evidence against Browder.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s office said in a statement that the alleged tax evasion by Browder and co-defendant Ivan Cherkasov had caused some 3.4 billion roubles ($58.76 million) in damage to the Russian federal budget.
In addition to nine years in jail, Browder was also fined 200,000 roubles ($3,500) and barred from doing business in Russia for three years, the Prosecutor General’s Office said.
Cherkasov, meanwhile, was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Browder was also sentenced to nine years in jail in 2013 after having been tried along with the late Magnitsky, who was posthumously found guilty of tax evasion in a case that prompted international outrage.
At the time Interpol refused to include Browder on its international search list after deciding that the tax evasion case against him was “of a predominantly political nature”.
$1 = 57.8623 roubles Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Bolton