Russia Sentences Anti-Kremlin Campaigner William Browder in Absentia

William Browder has led a campaign in memory of his former employee Sergei Magnitsky, who went public with details of massive fraud by Russian officials. Photo: AFP

A Moscow court on Friday sentenced anti-Kremlin campaigner William Browder in absentia to nine years in a penal colony after convicting him of deliberate bankruptcy.

The U.S.-born British citizen has led a campaign in memory of his former employee Sergei Magnitsky, who went public with details of massive fraud by Russian state officials before dying in detention after spending 11 months in squalid prisons in 2009.

“Browder is found guilty and is sentenced to nine years in a general security penal colony,” the Moscow judge said.

The court also ordered Mr. Browder, the head hedge fund manager at Hermitage Capital Management, and his Russian partner Ivan Cherkasov to pay a total of 4.2 billion rubles ($72 million, 60 million euros).

The Russian prosecutor general’s office said on Friday that it will continue to ask Interpol for Mr. Browder, who is based in London, to be extradited.

“The prosecutor general’s office did not stop and is not stopping to seek Browder’s extradition to Russia,” prosecutor Mikhail Reznichenko was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

In 2012, the U.S. passed the “Sergei Magnitsky Act” which imposed a visa ban and froze the assets of Russian officials implicated in the lawyer’s death. The act became a symbol of prison abuses in Russia and strained ties with Washington.

In retaliation Moscow passed legislation prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian children.

A Moscow court had already sentenced Mr. Browder in absentia to nine years prison for tax evasion in 2013.

A Russian court also convicted Mr. Magnitsky of tax evasion in 2013 — despite his death four years earlier — in an almost unprecedented trial of a dead person in post-Soviet Russia.