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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Court Throws Out Browder's 5 PwC Suits

A Moscow Arbitration Court judge has thrown out five lawsuits that minority shareholder activist William Browder filed against Big Four auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"We hope we're at the end of it," said PwC managing partner Richard Buski. "These decisions are pretty definitive."

Earlier this year, Browder, CEO of investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, asked the court to declare PwC's audits of gas monopoly Gazprom "false and misleading."

PwC officials say they stand behind their work on auditing Gazprom's 2000 financial statements, as well as their examination of Gazprom's relationship with Itera, a Florida-registered gas trader suspected of being owned by former Gazprom managers.

Browder said he plans to appeal the judge's decisions all the way up to the Constitutional Court.

"Never since this controversy began has [PwC] addressed the substance of the allegations, nor has the court addressed whether their audits were correct," Browder said.

The scandal surrounding the audits springs from a misunderstanding of the role auditors play, said Keith Rowden, head of PwC's Russian energy practice.

"Our role is to report on whether the company's financial statements are fairly presented," Rowden said. "It's not to say whether management made good decisions or bad decisions. That's up to the shareholders."

Last month, Gazprom's board of directors recommended that shareholders approve PwC as the company's auditor at their annual meeting, to be held June 28.

Institutional Shareholder Services, a U.S.-based firm that advises institutional investors on how to vote their proxies, has advised shareholders to vote against the board's recommendation.