Ex-investigator's libel suit against Browder an answer to Magnitsky Act - British lawyer

Defense lawyers for Hermitage Capital Management head William Browder have denied assertions by ex-investigator Pavel Karpov's defense that Hermitage Capital has allegedly acknowledged the inconsistency of its claims Karpov played a role in Hermitage Capital lawyer's death.

It looks like Karpov, who circulated information through his defense lawyers about the reaction to his lawsuit, has grubbed up quotations, cynically reckoning to present the case the way he wants to, British lawyer Mark Stevens, a defense attorney for Browder and for Jamison Firestone, the head of the British law firm Firestone Duncan, told Interfax on Sunday.

Any reasonable person will ask in this situation: Is this being done because they are aware of their weak position, he said. They will fail to benefit from such a selective approach, nor will they manage to deceive the British court, Stephens said.

He said Karpov's libel suit against Browder is a large-scale but ill-advised political speculation which aims to obstruct the introduction of sanctions [against Russian officials].

The London-based law firm Olswang which defends Karpov, commented to Interfax on Saturday on Hermitage Capital's reaction to Karpov's libel suit against Browder, filed with the High Court in London.

The defendants have acknowledged in Paragraph 220 of their reply to the suit that Karpov was in no way involved in Mr. Magnitsky's maltreatment, torture or killing, Karpov's defense lawyers said in a statement handed over to Interfax.

The statement also refutes claims that Karpov participated in the search of the Firestone Duncan office on June 4 2007 and in an attack on a company employee.

Karpov had been abroad until June 8, 2007 and the defendants are not even trying to support their accusation, Olswang said.

The paragraph in the lawsuit dealing with this carries no commentaries, it said.

Nor had Karpov colluded with the Hermitage in the alleged $230 million fraud, the law firm said. All of his family's assets, except his mother's car, which the defendants erroneously cited while blaming him for that fraud, had been bought before the date when the crime was committed, Olswang said.

Hermitage Capital's lawyer and Firestone Duncan's partner Sergei Magnitsky, arrested on tax evasion charges, died at a Moscow prison on November 16, 2009.

His colleagues Browder and Firestone said then that Magnitsky's arrest followed his exposure of corrupt deals involving Russian officials and Interior Ministry people, including Karpov. The investigator brought slander charges against Browder.

"An analysis of media reports suggests that Browder was the only person interested in misappropriating stakes in his own companies, in a tax refund and in Magnitsky's death," Karpov said in a statement filed with the Russian Prosecutor General's Office. It said Browder, Firestone and Magnitsky had been running a long-lasting information campaign to discredit the investigators, including Karpov.

Members of the Presidential Human Rights Council Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Kirill Kabanov and Tamara Morshchakova released a statement in 211 which blames Karpov for misappropriating budget resources during the investigation.

Karpov retaliated by filing a lawsuit against the rights campaigners with Moscow's Presnensky Court. He claimed that he was not involved in the probe into the fund misappropriation case, that Magnitsky had never accused him of illegally reregistering legal entities or misappropriating budget resources, and did not sue him.

Karpov demanded that the information released be refuted and that he be paid one ruble in damages. After the court rejected the lawsuit, the ex-police officer filed a suit against Browder with the Higher Court in London which is likely to start the hearings in May.

The Independent writes that Browder's defense attorneys want to demonstrate to the court that Karpov is a member of an organized criminal group engaged in financial frauds. They also urged the Higher Court in London not to hear this case as they abound in procedural abuses and do not come under British courts' jurisdiction, the newspaper said.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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