Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer working for Hermitage Capital who died in remand prison in 2009, never found any evidence of corruption among senior Moscow officials, the Russian Interior Ministry’s Investigation Department Deputy Chief Alexander Yagodin said on Sunday.
Magnitsky was working for London-based Hermitage Capital investment fund when he was arrested in 2008 as part of an embezzlement and tax evasion investigation. The auditor died after almost a year in custody. His death triggered an international outcry.
Days before his arrest, Magnitsky claimed to have uncovered a massive fraud in which Moscow tax and police officials had allegedly embezzled $230 million in tax rebates by taking over Hermitage subsidiaries and using them to claim tax rebates.
Magnitsky’s supporters claim that the legal case investigators launched against him was a means for the same security officials he had accused to muzzle him and stop his activities.
The original case against him had been closed without the consent of Magnitsky's relatives and without clearing him of the charges against him. In August 2011, the investigation was reopened.
“Based on the results of the investigation, we can say that Magnitsky had not exposed any corruption scandals,” Yagodin said, adding that there are “no reasons to exonerate Magnitsky.”
Magnitsky’s mother Natalya officially refused to study the documents relating to the reopened case against her son, the national Interior Ministry press service said on Sunday.
A Kremlin human rights council report said in July that Magnitsky's death was likely to have been the result of a beating and failure to provide sufficient medical care in custody, and that the charges against him were fraudulent. Human rights activists and his former colleagues allege the officers he had accused were involved in his death, which was originally said to have been the result of "heart failure" at the age of 37.
Two former prison doctors have been charged with negligence in connection with his death in custody.
Hermitage Capital had for several years supplied information to the media related to corporate and governmental misconduct related to alleged corruption within state-owned Russian enterprises.
In 2006, Hermitage Capital co-founder Bill Browder was banned from Russia on national security grounds. Browder claimed he only represented a threat "to corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.”
Tax evasion charges against him were investigated in absentia. It was reported that at the end of 2011 the statute of limitations attributable to his crimes would expire. In June, his name was removed from an international wanted list. In December 2011, the Interior Ministry's investigative department announced a criminal investigation of tax evasion against Magnitsky and Browder would be separated into two cases.
Two tax officials accused by Magnitsky of stealing 5.4 billion rubles ($186 million) in a corruption scheme left the country in May, the Federal Security Service said in a report issued on February 28.
The two tax officials mentioned in the FSB report, Olga Tsaryova and Yelena Anisimova, left Russia by car in May at a border post in the Belgorod region. They cannot be served with a summons for questioning in the case because they are not in the country, the report said.