Russia slammed for targeting tax fraud lawyers

An international law society has slammed intimidation by the Russian state of
lawyers representing HSBC and hedge fund Hermitage who are fighting an alleged
tax fraud.

The International Bar Association said there was a ‘deterioration in the rule
of law’ in Russia after the Interior Ministry raided lawyers’ offices and issued
summons for them to appear as witnesses in cases in which they are working.

‘When government agents interfere with the work of lawyers, it is not only
the legal profession that is threatened, but the overall legal order in the
state,’ said IBA executive director Mark Ellis, reported in the

Hermitage believes a complex fraud was committed where companies owned on its
behalf by HSBC were stolen and used to falsely reclaim $230m of tax paid by
Hermitage in 2006.

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