MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow court on Friday sentenced the financier who has advocated for a U.S. law targeting Russian officials over human rights abuses to nine years in prison in absentia over tax evasion and funneling money overseas.
William Browder has been the driving force behind the Magnitsky Act. The legislation is named after Browder's former employee Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail after accusing Russian officials of involvement in a tax fraud scheme.
The Tverskoy District Court also sentenced Browder's associate Ivan Cherkasov to eight years in prison for avoiding taxes and illegally funneling funds overseas. Browder and Cherkasov were ordered to pay 4 billion rubles ($69 million) to the Russian government in damages.
The same court convicted Browder of tax evasion in another trial in absentia in 2013.
The U.S.-born Browder, who is based in London, has dismissed the accusations against him as a sham.
The Magnitsky Act became a sore point between the U.S. and Russia after it was signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2012. Shortly afterward, President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning American citizens from adopting Russian children, in a move widely viewed as retaliation.
Browder led one of the biggest investment funds in Russia for 10 years before he left the country and was barred entry in 2006 as a threat to national security.
The United States earlier this month imposed sanctions on five more Russian officials under the Magnitsky Act, including the leader of Chechnya.