15:50 GMT15 January 2021
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    The Russian Prosecutor General's Office query to US law enforcement agencies regarding illegal actions of William Browder remains unanswered, according to Denis Grunis, the head of the agency's International Cooperation Department for Major Cases.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Russian Prosecutor General's Office query to US law enforcement agencies regarding illegal actions of the international investment group controlled by William Browder, including acquisition of 200 million Gazprom shares, tax evasion and deliberate bankruptcy of a number of companies, remains unanswered, Denis Grunis, the head of the agency's International Cooperation Department for Major Cases at the Office of International Legal Cooperation said Friday in an interview with RT broadcaster.

    "Our query regarding potentially illegal actions of a cross-border criminal group that includes the Ziff brothers, William Browder and Jamison Firestone, remains unanswered. We have not received the evidence we need for our investigation," Grunis said.

    The representative of Russia’s Prosecutor General's Office also said US unwillingness to conduct any inquiry or investigation based on the information received from Russia could be politically motivated.

    "I wouldn’t rule that out," Grunis said, answering the question whether politics could have played a part in reluctance of US law enforcers to assist in Russia's probe.

    According to the investigators, between 1997 and 2005, Ziff Brothers Investments, a company headed by Ziffs, Browder, and Firestone, has obtained at least 200 million Gazprom shares at St. Petersburg and Moscow Exchanges in violation of the presidential order that prohibited foreigners from owning Gazprom shares at the time. In 2006, all assets (Gazprom shares and dividends) were funneled out of the affiliated Russian companies. The companies failed to pay taxes and were dismantled, while their assets (at least $1 billion) were transferred to Cypriot companies and then, after a very short period of time, to US companies.

    In 2013, Russia sentenced Browder in absentia to nine years in prison for tax evasion and for falsely claiming tax breaks for hiring disabled persons.


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    economic crimes, inquiry, prosecution, Russian General Prosecutor's Office, William Browder, US, Russia
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