A whistleblower in Hermitage Capital Management's battle with Russian authorities was not murdered, British officials said.
There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Alexander Perepilichny in November, the police said. Perepilichny had provided documents that he claimed showed that US$230 million Hermitage alleges Russian officials stole from it had been funneled into Swiss bank accounts; he is among four people linked to the Hermitage case to have died young.
But, unlike Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whom the hedge fund said was tortured to death in prison, there was no foul play in the Perepilichny death. Ian Pollard of the Surrey & Sussex Major Crime Team said the police had run "a full and detailed range of toxicology tests" on the 44-year-old, and "there is no evidence to suggest" third-party involvement in his death. The matter has been sent to the coroner for an inquiry.
The police acknowledged that the inquiry took a long time, but noted that it was important to rule out foul play due to the suspicious deaths of other Russians in the U.K., notably former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned with a radioactive agent and died in 2006.
Russia has accused Hermitage and founder William Browder of a massive tax fraud. The hedge fund, once the largest foreign investor in Russia, has said that Interior Ministry officials bilked the country's treasury and then laid the blame on it.
Perepilichny was found dead outside his rented house in Southern England in November. His life had reportedly been threatened due to his cooperation with Hermitage.
Read our recent exclusive interview with Hermitage Capital's William Browder (May 29, 2013)