Swiss Prosecutors Drop Russian Money-Laundering Inquiry

ZURICH (Reuters) -
Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky

Swiss federal prosecutors have closed a decade-long investigation into a graft scandal linked to the 2009 death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow jail, they said.

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said on Tuesday it was dropping its inquiry into whether Russian officials defrauded tax authorities and laundered the proceeds through Swiss banks, as alleged by businessman Bill Browder’s investment fund Hermitage Capital.

“Based on its extensive inquiries, the OAG can now confirm that the investigation has not revealed any evidence that would justify charges being bought against anyone in Switzerland,” it said.

It did, however, order the forfeiture of more than 4 million Swiss francs ($4.4 million) of the 18 million francs originally frozen, as these sums could be traced to criminal activity in Russia, it said.

The OAG said the circumstances surrounding Magnitsky’s death and its political repercussions were not the object of its proceedings. It also revoked Hermitage’s status as a party to its probe, saying it had not been able to determine that the funds under investigation originated from an offense committed to Hermitage’s detriment.