Nok en rik russer er funnet død i Storbritannia under mystiske omstendigheter. 44 år gamle Alexandr Perepilitsjnij ble funnet død utenfor sitt hjem 10. november. Han var sunn og frisk. Imidlertid spilte han en viktig rolle som informant i saken om de 233 millioner dollar som russiske skattebyråkrater stjal fra Hermitage Capital Management.
Britiske konservative politikere gikk onsdag ut med sin bekymring, og krever at myndighetene gjennomfører en grundig etterforskning. Hva døde Perepilitsjnij av? Så langt har man ikke funnet ut av det.
Tidligere er tre drept i tilknytning til saken.
Toxicology tests have been ordered by police investigating the sudden death of the Russian supergrass Alexander Perepilichnyy, a wealthy businessman who collapsed outside his luxury Surrey mansion two weeks ago.
The revelation came as the Conservative MP who campaigned for sanctions against Russian officials implicated in the death of Sergei Magnitsky – another whistleblower linked to Mr Perepilichnyy – called on the Home Secretary to ensure that every step was taken to uncover whether «foul play» might have been involved.
Mr Perepilichnyy, a seemingly healthy 44-year-old man, was pronounced dead on 10 November outside his home in St George’s Hill, a private estate on the outskirts of Weybridge which is home to dozens of celebrities, footballers, City financiers and Russian tycoons.
The Independent revealed yesterday that the Russian businessman was helping Swiss investigators uncover a series of accounts used by Moscow tax officials who became exceedingly wealthy following a massive tax fraud. Alongside Mr Magnitsky, who originally exposed the fraud in 2008, Mr Perepilichnyy is the fourth person linked to the case to have died in mysterious circumstances.
Dominic Raab, a Tory MP who has campaigned for stricter sanctions against any Russian officials or nationals implicated in the Magnitsky case, called on Theresa May yesterday to provide «every technical support and all the national-level resources required to conduct the most accurate and effective toxicology assessments possible».
«Mr Perepilichnyy is the fourth unexplained or suspicious death in the Magnitsky case,» he wrote in a letter seen by The Independent. «It is vital to ensure that all the local and national authorities make every effort to find out whether there is any evidence of foul play in Mr Perepilichnyy’s death.»
A delay in the toxicology tests means they may not establish whether or not he was poisoned due to the way chemicals break down in the body over time.
The Independent understands that Hermitage Capital Management, the British investment fund which hired Mr Magnitsky to uncover the $233m fraud carried out against them by a network of corrupt Russian Interior Ministry officials and underworld figures, wrote to Surrey police on 17 November informing them of Mr Perepilichnyy’s significance as a witness. But toxicology tests were not ordered until the last few days.
Hermitage last night would not comment on the reports. But William Browder, CEO of the investment fund, confirmed they had worked with Mr Perepilichnyy to send a dossier of evidence to Swiss prosecutors.
«Alexander Perepilichnyy approached us in 2010 as a whistleblower with evidence about the complicity of a number of Russian government officials in the theft of $230m which Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered,» he said.
«He provided us with copies of many of the original bank documents. In January 2011, Hermitage filed an application to the Swiss authorities seeking an investigation. It was announced in March that the Swiss prosecutor’s office opened an investigation and froze the assets in a number of accounts.»
Hermitage Capital Management-saken er stor, og den er kompromitterende for Valdimir Putins regime. Den avslører dem som grådige kleptomaner som ikke skyr noen midler, hverken for å nå sine mål eller fjerne brysomme personer. Den inkluderer ikke bare tjenestemenn i skatteetaten, men også FSB. Disse personene kan ikke opptre som de gjør uten Putins stilltiende samtykke. Røveriet er ved å koste Putin en egen lov i Kongressen. Så langt har EUs medlemsland ikke vært like samarbeidsvillige.
Perepilichnyy had sought refuge in the UK after giving evidence on Olga Stepanova, a senior Russian tax official, to a Swiss prosecutor.
Stepanova is one of 60 Russian officials on a US travel ban list.
The US imposed the sanctions due to credible allegations that she was part of a conspiracy in 2009 to embezzle hundreds of millions of euros of Russian tax money and to murder an accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, who exposed the scam.
Other names on the list include senior officials in Russia’s state security service, the FSB.
Det er syv år siden Alexandr Litvinenko ble drept med polonium210 i London. Den saken ble rullet opp og dokumenterte at ordren om å drepe bare kunne kommet fra noen høyt oppe i systemet, m.a.o Putin selv. Skandalen førte nesten til brudd mellom de to land. Hvis det også denne gang er snakk om likvidering, kan brudd bli vanskelig å unngå.