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Wednesday
Jul102013

Magnitsky-linked official named in Russia fraud probe

A former tax inspector who appeared on a draft list of Russian officials banned from the United States under the Magnitsky Act is the target of investigators in a $134 million tax fraud.

Olga Tsymai was a member of the Federal Tax Service, the Moscow Times said. She allegedly approved filings in 2009 and 2010 that allowed shell companies to claim fraudulent tax refunds.

Russian investigators allege that $134 million was paid out of the federal treasury and transferred to personal and overseas bank accounts, the Moscow Times reported.

Tsymai appeared on a draft U.S. list of Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky's detention and death in custody. 'The draft was compiled by U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin, one of the authors of the Magnitsky Act passed by the United States last year that punishes Russian officials accused of human rights abuses,' the Moscow Times said.

The final public list of Russian officials sanctioned by visa bans and property freezes under the Magnitsky Act published in April didn't include Tsymai.

Magnitsky, a tax lawyer who was working for William Browder's Hermitage Capital, uncovered the tax fraud and reported it to Russian authorities. He was detained and jailed. He died in Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center in 2009 at the age of 37 after nearly a year in custody.

'Tsymai, who denies the charges against her, has not been detained by police, but has signed a pledge not to leave the country,' the Moscow Times said.

Hermitage Capital's Browder has led a global campaign for sanctions against those responsible for Magnitsky's detention and death.

The Russian General Prosecutor’s Office is staging a criminal trial against Magnitsky. It's the first posthumous trial in Russian legal history, according to sources at Hermitage.