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Police Raid Law Offices in Hermitage Case

The tricky thing about trying to sue the state in Russia or otherwise defend against their prosecutors is that they tend to immediately raid your legal offices to steal important briefs and other materials – and one should consider themselves lucky when they aren’t thrown in jail, exiled, or worse. What an outrageous mockery of a normal business environment the Hermitage/HSBC case is exposing, where the unchecked impunity and greed of Moscow’s state officials is going far beyond the easy “rational” targets of energy, mining, media, and civil society supporters. From the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Browder, in a telephone interview from London, said he viewed the search as a response to complaints filed by Hermitage over alleged tax fraud. Three investment vehicles that had formerly been under his control were used to defraud the state of $230 million in taxes, he said. Mr. Browder said he had nothing to do with the fraud. Mr. Browder and his lawyer, Eduard Khairetdinov, have said that the three investment vehicles’ founding documents and seals had previously been taken from another Moscow law office by investigators, and that those documents and seals were used to take control of the three companies. “We uncovered a $230 million tax fraud and reported it to the Russian general prosecutor at the end of July. Instead of pursuing the obvious suspects, the first thing the Russian police did is start attacking and blaming the lawyers who uncovered the fraud and filed the complaints,” Mr. Browder said.