Rich Lister Jennings' firm linked to alleged Russian fraud

Expatriate billionaire Stephen Jennings’ investment bank, Renaissance Capital, has been linked to an alleged 11.2 billion roubles ($NZ506 million) fraud against the Russian state. 

British hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management has asked Russian prosecutors and government officials to investigate a number of allegedly fraudulent tax refunds, Bloomberg News reports.

The request is part of a wider battle between Hermitage and Moscow, which began when the fund’s founder, William Browder, was barred from the country.

Russian authorities said Mr Browder was a threat to national security and began proceedings against Hermitage for tax evasion.

Mr Browder has now posted a video on YouTube outlining the tax fraud charges and written a letter to Russian officials requesting an investigation.

He says the frauds against the Russian state were extensive and involved a massive coverup by leading Russian tax officials.

One of the alleged tax refunds – totaling nearly 2.9 million roubles – involves two investment vehicles formerly owned by Renaissance but sold at the time of the alleged frauds.

The refunds were wired to Universal Savings Bank, which closed in June 2008, Hermitage said this week in the letter to Russian officials.

The letter, copies of which were obtained by The St. Petersburg Times, also identifies the people whom Hermitage suspects of playing a role in the alleged fraud, including tax officials.

Renaissance says that it had no knowledge of any tax fraud until informed of it by news organisations last autumn. “Any suggestion Renaissance was involved in a 2006 tax fraud is wholly false,” the bank told the Times. 

Mr Jennings founded Renaissance in 1995 with former CS First Boston colleague Boris Jordan. The pair built their careers in Moscow during the era of Russian state asset sell-offs.

Mr Jennings is now chief executive of Renaissance Group. His wealth was estimated at $1.4 billion in last year's NBR Rich List, but was marked down this year to $800 million.

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