By Andrei Skvarsky.
HSBC has found itself drawn into the Magnitsky affair as Russian police are pressing its Moscow subsidiary to cough up information relating to Hermitage Capital and threatening to use force if the British bank’s Russian arm refuses to cooperate, Hermitage said.
Russia’s Interior Ministry wants HSBC’s Russian unit to provide wide-ranging financial and banking information concerning Hermitage’s companies and the London-based investment fund’s advisers dating back to 1996, Hermitage said in a statement.
The demand is part of an investigation launched three weeks ago after Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted at a news conference in December that Russian authorities “dig deeper” into the Magnitsky case, according to Hermitage.
If the HSBC failed to produce the papers, they might be seized by force, possibly in a raid by a “special unit”, Hermitage cited the Interior Ministry as warning.
Sergei Magnitsky was a Hermitage lawyer who died in pretrial detention in Moscow in 2009 after accusing senior Russian officials of stealing $230m from the Russian state in an alleged tax scam. His arrest and death set off Cold War-style diplomatic rows between Russia and the West.