Tuesday 20 November 2018 12:56 pm

Bill Browder calls for Russia to be barred from Interpol system after ‘serial abuse’

Hermitage Capital boss Bill Browder called today for Russia to be barred from the Interpol system ahead of the potential election of a Russian head of the international policing body.

At a press conference in London today, Browder and exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky described Russian abuse of the Interpol system to pursue them overseas.

Browder said he had been subject to seven illegitimate arrest requests by Russia while Khodorkovsky said Russia had sent arrest requests to individual member states targeting him.

The press conference comes ahead of a closely-watched race to appoint the new president of Interpol, with a vote set for tomorrow.

A Russian official, Alexander Prokopchuk, is tipped to become the body’s new head, following the disappearance and resignation of Meng Hongwei, who is being investigated for corruption in China.

Prokopchuk was previously Interpol national bureau chief in Russia, during a period where Browder and Khodorkovsky accused Russia of illegitimately using the Interpol system to harass them.

Speaking through an interpreter Khodorkovsky said he was concerned that if Propochuck was elected he would serve “not in the interest of Interpol and justice but in the interest of people in the Kremlin”.

Browder said that at present he only travels to “rule of law countries”, saying he otherwise risked being sent back to Russia to be “tortured and killed”.

Browder said if Prokopchuk was appointed he would “have to be more careful about travelling,” which he said was, “Vladimir Putin’s chief objective”.

He said there was widespread opposition in the West to the potential election of Prokopchuk which he said would be like "putting the mafia in charge".

Yesterday, prosecutors in Moscow claimed Browder's fund shareholders used illegal profits made in the country to fund donations to the Democratic Party, and claimed he may have poisoned Sergei Magnitsky, his Russian accountant who died in prison after uncovering a huge fraud.

Browder has accused Russian prison officials of causing the death of Magnitsky, whom the investor often refers to as having been a lawyer.

Formerly one of the Russia’s biggest foreign fund managers before he was expelled in 2005, Browder, a UK citizen, has been described as Russia’s “most wanted man”.

EU lawmakers will vote today on a European equivalent to the Magnitsky Act – named after Magnitsky and strongly backed by Browder – a piece of US legislation passed in 2012 which barred 18 Russians from entering the US and using its banks.

The law was expanded in 2016 to allow US authorities to impose targeted sanctions against those who have committed human rights violations, wherever they live. The act has been strongly criticised by Putin.