Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika has urged U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a criminal case against British investor William Browder, the man who had initiated the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russians for alleged human rights abuses.
In a statement broadcast by the Rossiya 24 TV channel on October 24, Chaika said he had sent a letter to Sessions asking him to launch a probe against Browder and his associates, as well as to reconsider the Magnitsky Act.
"We have put it straight that, from our standpoint, the act was adopted for no actual reason, while it was lobbied by people who had committed crimes in Russia," Chaika said.
Chaika's statement came hours after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital, has the right to enter the United States at any time.
On October 23, Browder said he had been blocked from flying to the United States after Russia placed him on an Interpol wanted list.
Browder was convicted in absentia in 2013 of tax evasion by a Moscow court and sentenced to nine years in prison.
In February, Russia opened a second tax-evasion case against Browder and a Moscow court ordered his arrest.
Chaika also said he believes there is "a chance" that the United Kingdom, where Browder resides and has citizenship, could extradite the financier to the United States.
"It is no accident that he has changed his citizenship," Chaika said of Browder. "He was a U.S. citizen and did not pay taxes. Now he is a UK citizen, believing, perhaps, that the U.K. does not extradite anyone to any country."
Browder has repeatedly dismissed allegations against him as baseless and politically motivated, and Interpol has rejected several previous Russian requests for his arrest.
Browder was Russia’s largest portfolio investor until he fled the country in 2005.
The Russian government has applied pressure on Browder in an international campaign challenging the U.S. Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law that introduced visa bans and asset freezes for Russians alleged to be involved in the death of whistle-blowing accountant Sergei Magnitsky.
Magnitsky, who worked for Browder, accused Russian law enforcement and tax officials of a massive tax-fraud scheme prior to his November 2009 death in a Moscow jail.
His family and friends say he was tortured, beaten, and denied critical medical treatment shortly before he died.
The law is believed to have been at the center of a meeting between a Russian lawyer, Donald Trump Jr., and other confidants of U.S. President Donald Trump at a controversial meeting in New York in June last year -- just months before Trump won the presidential election.