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Hermitage Fraud Case: Closed?

Since once of its clients was investigated by the Russian authorities in June 2007, Hermitage Capital Management has been mounting a concerted effort to bring perpetrators of fraud in high government positions to justice (more about the campaign and link to William Browder’s YouTube video here).  In August 2008, the same month that TNK-BP chief executive Robert Dudley was barred from entering Russia for two years, the company revealed that its lawyers had their offices raided following initial fraud allegations.  
In which case, they must have welcomed yesterday’s news that Viktor Markelov, a former sawmill foreman, was sentenced to five years in prison (a reduced sentence) after pleading guilty to a ‘highly complex‘ fraud in which he reclaimed over five billion rubles of capital gains taxes paid by the hedge fund (you can read Browder’s full account of the fraud here)?  Or did they.  With regard to the Russian justice system, if it sounds too good to be true, there’s a fair chance that it is.

‘Hermitage, the biggest foreign investor in the Russian stock market until 2006, has claimed that the sophisticated fraud could only have been committed with the collusion of senior figures in the nation’s law enforcement agencies and tax offices.’

It’s conjecture, of course, but you can’t help wondering.  Perhaps Hermitage’s new complaint, filed today with the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, alleging the embezzlement of billions of rubles of government money, will have luck in uncovering the less obvious sources of, as well as the more obvious accessories to, mass-scale fraud.