The Russian Interior Ministry views the Hermitage Capital Fund's comment on the second criminal case opened against its deceased auditor Sergei Magnitsky as an attempt to discredit the ministry in the eyes of the public.
"The investigators see the Hermitage Capital Fund's statement posted by the media as another attempt to discredit the activity of the Russian law enforcement authorities in the eyes of the public," says a report posted on the ministry's website on Wednesday.
"The Russian police initiated investigative procedures with the purpose of collecting evidence on the territories of a number of foreign states" within the framework of the criminal case No. 678540 mentioned in the Hermitage Capital statement, the report said. It said the case was opened in July 2011 against unknown persons on the counts of money laundering (Part 4 Article 174 of the Russian Criminal Code).
"The investigators are looking into the mechanism of financial transactions and other deals with the money embezzled in 2007-2008 and identifying persons involved in [money] laundering," the report said.
"The energetic actions of the investigation trouble the interested persons who are trying to create a negative attitude toward the investigation and cast doubt on its outcomes with false statements made in the media," it said.
"For instance, information about the alleged disregard of complaints lodged by the Sergei Magnitsky family with the Russian Interior Ministry investigative department is incorrect. The investigators processed every appeal filed by a representative of Magnitsky's mother in the procedure established by the law and answers were sent to the applicants," the report said.
In addition, the applicants "were officially notified more than once that S. L. Magnitsky was not being prosecuted within the framework of the criminal case No 678540."
"In spite of the insistent attempts of individuals operating on behalf of the Hermitage Capital Fund, they will have no effect on the impartial investigation of this criminal case. The public will be informed about the findings after the preliminary inquiry is done," the report said.
The embezzlement of 5.4 billion rubles ($162.4 million) in public funds was exposed earlier in the course of the investigation of another criminal case, "in which the culprits were convicted by the Moscow Tverskoi District Court," the ministry noted.
The Hermitage Capital Fund press service said on Monday that another criminal case had been opened on the counts of the embezzlement of 5.4 billion rubles ($162.4 million) against its auditor Sergei Magnitsky who died at a Moscow detention facility in 2009. The Russian Interior Ministry refuted the report.
"Neither the investigative department nor other investigative bodies of the Interior Ministry has opened new criminal cases against Magnitsky," a ministry spokesman told reporters on Monday. "Russia does not have a practice of opening criminal cases against deceased persons," he added.
The Fund released another statement to allege the investigation of "the second secret case of Magnitsky despite the refutations made publicly."
The Fund said it possessed documents that proved "the opening of a new fabricated case, which posthumously accused S. Magnitsky of embezzling budget money" and claimed that the Moscow Tverskoi District Court, the Prosecutor General's Office and the Interior Ministry declined numerous complaints of the family about the accusations "made in the new posthumous case No 678540."
The Russian Interior Ministry press center replied to the second statement of the Hermitage Capital Fund that "it either had a poor knowledge of jurisprudence or intentionally tried to mislead the public."
Hermitage Capital auditor Magnitsky was arrested on the counts of tax evasion and died at a Moscow detention facility on November 16, 2009. The Moscow Tverskoi Court sentenced him in absentia on July 2013 for evading more than 522 million ruble ($15.7 million) taxes through the falsification of tax declarations and the illegal use of benefits provided to persons with disabilities. The case was dropped in Russia but Magnitsky was denied rehabilitation because his culpability had been proven.