The executive director of the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, Bill Browder, has been arrested in Spain, according to Browder himself, who posted a photo taken from the back of a police car. Browder said his arrest came on foot of an Interpol warrant issued by Russia. The investor is a well-known critic of Vladimir Putin and led a campaign in which he denounced corruption in the Kremlin.
Shortly after his arrival at a police station in Madrid, he was released. According to police sources, Interpol sent a request to Spain for Browder’s arrest. However, shortly after, the agency reported that the request had political motives, so the businessman was freed.
The financier, who was born in the United States and also has British nationality, has led an international campaign against corruption in the Kremlin, especially following the death in prison of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, which he blames on Russian officials.
“I’m in the back seat of a Spanish police car on my way to a police station in compliance with an arrest warrant from Russia, they won’t tell me to which station,” Browder tweeted this morning.
Just one and a half hours later, Browder published another message in which he reported that he had been released after the Interpol general secretariat had told the Spanish Police that they should discard the arrest warrant issued by Russia.
“This is the sixth time that Russia has abused Interpol in my case,” says the businessman.
In 2013, the Interpol Independent Archives Control Commission found that Russia had used the institution in a “predominantly political” way to gather information about Browder’s whereabouts and that this practice was contrary to the regulations of the international police organisation.
Two months later, the agency received another request from Russia for Browder’s arrest for crimes of relating to a “qualified scam.” That request was also annulled.
Moscow accuses Browder of tax evasion and of being a threat to state security. Last December, he was sentenced in absentia by a Moscow court to nine years in prison for “deliberate bankruptcy” and tax evasion.
The company run by Browder, Hermitage Capital Management, was the most lucrative foreign investment fund in Russia. But in 2005, a Hermitage campaign against corruption in big national companies angered one of Putin’s allies and Browder was subsequently expelled from the country. In 2009, after the death in prison of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, the businessman switched to the opposition and began to seek support in Western countries.
Since being released earlier today, Browder has tweeted that he is in Madrid to deliver evidence to the anti-corruption prosecutor, José Grinda, on “the large amount of money from the Magnitsky case that has arrived in Spain.”
“Now that I’m released my mission carries on. Meeting with Prosector Grinda now” he added.