The Nicosia District Court will hear a motion from Bill Browder’s lawyer seeking an order that would prevent Cyprus from acting on a Russian warrant against the investor who became a Putin critic.
Browder, an American-born financier and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management, is wanted by Russian authorities for tax fraud and for being a ‘threat to national security.’
But he says Russian authorities are after him because he exposed corruption, arguing that an international warrant for his arrest is politically motivated.
'Cyprus is now actively helping Russia to counter US Magnitsky sanctions'
Browder’s attorney, Jonathan Winer, filed on behalf of his client a motion in Cypriot courts to render the Russian warrant unenforceable citing political motivations.
But the Attorney General in Cyprus, Costas Clerides, had objected to the request, arguing that it was baseless, unlawful, and illegal while suggesting that its purpose was to delay proceedings, according to reports.
“There is no good reason” said Clerides, referring to reasons given in Browder’s request, with the attorney general arguing they had neither merit nor proof.
But a Nicosia judge said Browder’s team will have a chance to make their case on July 11.
This means that the burden of proof will rest with Browder’s lawyer, who will have to “prove to the court that the criminal prosecution from Russia is politically motivated rather than based on real charges.”
Browder tweets about similar case
On Monday, Browder wrote on social media about a similar request he had filed in Denmark.
“The Danish Minister of Justice @SorenPape declines my request for safe passage to Denmark to testify at Magnitsky hearings at the Danish Parliament. He graciously says they will listen to all sides if they receive a Russian extradition request. I’m still going,” Browder tweeted.
In recent years, western governments came to the support of Browder, whose account auditor Sergei Magnitsky had helped expose corruption but later died in a Russian prison.
The Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law in 2012 by US President Barack Obama, sought to punish Russian human rights violators and offered a guiding principle against politically motivated prosecutions.
But Browder, in a tweet on social media last year, lashed out at the Cyprus government, in response to an article that claimed Cyprus was trying to roll back US sanctions against human violators in Russia.
“Cyprus is now actively helping Russia to counter US Magnitsky sanctions,” Browder wrote.
Last week, Browder was arrested by Spanish police in Madrid on a Russian Interpol arrest warrant.
But he was released on the same day following Interpol’s warning to Spanish authorities not to follow through with the Russian warrant.