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Bill Browder, Kremlin Critic, Pushes For Latvian Probe Into Bank’s Tie To Russian Fraud

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Vandana Rambaran Political Reporter
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ABLV Bank, the third largest in Latvia, is under investigation by Latvian authorities for possibly handling money linked to Russian fraud, according to a Reuters report Thursday.

Bill Browder, an investor fighting to expose corruption in Russia, first discovered the bank’s connection to potential fraud and filed his findings in a 16-page complaint letter to Latvia’s anti-money laundering agency.

Browder is the former CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, the investment adviser to the largest foreign investment fund in Russia. He was barred from the country in 2005 after the government deemed him a “threat to national security” because of his commitment to fighting corruption. Russian authorities raided his office and Browder alleges that $230 million was stolen from his firm to engage in tax fraud, according to information provided on his personal website.

His lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was in the process of investigating these claims when he was arrested for doing so and later died in prison in 2009. Browder filed the findings of Magnitsky’s investigation coupled with his own findings after his lawyer’s arrest.

“We have filed complaints with Latvian authorities with evidence showing the connection of multiple accounts at ABLV to the $230 million fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky,” Browder told Reuters.

“Latvia was a critical hub for Russian money laundering,” Browder said. “Authorities and bank officials have for many years allowed for illicit multi-million dollar transactions to take place and put a blind eye to them in the past.”

The bank has denied wrongdoing although they have admitted that two customers allegedly linked to the fraud scheme did have accounts at ABLV.

The Kremlin critic is campaigning in Washington for legislation that will impose sanctions on Russia in corruption cases. (RELATED: Bill Browder, A Staunch Putin Critic, Praises Trump Administration’s New Sanctions)

Browder himself was imprisoned in absentia in May for tax evasion and bankruptcy, allegations he denies and attributes to the Russian government’s vendetta against him, according to reports by  The Guardian.

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