Russia expects that Cypriot authorities will carry out an unbiased investigation into the case of Hermitage Capital foundation founder William Browder and hold the culprits accountable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“We expect that the competent bodies of the Republic of Cyprus will carry out the investigation impartially and faithfully, and the culprits will be held accountable,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Cypriot newspaper Simerini.
According to the foreign minister, Moscow believes that Cypriot authorities have not closed the case but only suspended the investigation, citing the information from competent bodies of Cyprus.
In late October, a group of 17 members of the European Parliament sent a letter to Cyprus, asking the country’s government not to cooperate with Russia on the latter’s investigation into fraudulent investment schemes involving offshore assets that Browder used when he was the head of the Hermitage Capital. Several weeks prior to when the letter was sent, Browder himself filed a request to a court in Cyprus asking an emergency injunction on the transfer of any data about his activities to Russia.
Lavrov noted that a campaign against cooperation between Russia and Cyprus was also launched by several Cypriot media outlets. The foreign minister assumed that it could be beneficial for Browder and the circles supporting him.
Russian authorities sentenced Browder in absentia, the head of the Hermitage Capital, to nine years in prison in 2013 for tax evasion and for falsely claiming tax breaks for hiring disabled persons. Browder has refuted the accusations, saying that he became a victim of a corruption scheme himself.