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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Says He Has Never Heard of Browder, Again

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday that he had "never heard of" Bill Browder, founder of the hedge fund firm Hermitage Capital Management who has been barred from Russia since November 2005.

"I never heard of that name before," Putin told Le Monde in an interview released Saturday. "If this person thinks his rights have been violated, let him go to court."

Browder, 44, a U.S.-born British citizen, is banned from returning to Russia under a law that keeps out people denoted as threatening "the security of the state, public order or public health."

Hermitage, once the largest foreign owner of Russian stocks, said in April that it was a victim of corporate identity theft in Russia.

Putin's comments come nearly two years after he was asked about Browder's case by a reporter, during the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg in July 2006.

At the time, when asked why Browder had been barred from the country, Putin responded heatedly.

"To be honest, I don't know why this particular person has been refused entry to Russia. I can imagine that this person has broken the laws of our country, and if others do the same, we'll refuse them entry, too."

Browder had battled with Gazprom over inflated corporate spending and nontransparent gas trading deals, and clashed with Kremlin-linked oil major Surgutneftegaz over its murky ownership schemes.

"Russia is a large country. There can be difficulties, conflicts with the authorities, business or personal disputes. That's life," Putin said in Friday's interview.

n Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday that the United States should explain its refusal to grant a visa to the country's richest man, metals magnate Oleg Deripaska, or simply give him one.

"He runs [multibillion-dollar] businesses in many countries of the world. Why do they limit his movements?

"If he did something, show us the proof, if you have nothing to show, lift the restrictions," Putin said Friday in an interview with Le Monde, published on Saturday.