Klyuev was now widely identified in the press as the mastermind of the Hermitage scam and the owner of Universal Savings Bank. So he sold the bank to a clothing salesman who had the misfortune, like other patsies associated with this crew, of dying in 2008 by falling off a balcony.
The Interior Ministry exonerated Olga Stepanova and her subordinates, claiming that they had been “tricked” into issuing the refunds. Yet as to how these officials collectively became $43 million richer when their state salaries were in the $10,000 range was apparently uninteresting to Russia’s largest domestic crime agency. As for the stolen money, alas, it was lost forever because, as the Ministry claimed, the truck carrying all the Universal Savings Bank records blew up.
On November 16, 2009, after suffering horribly from severe pancreatitis, Magnitsky was taken to Matrosskaya Tishina prison where he was handcuffed and beaten to death by eight riot guards in an isolation cell. His official cause of death was—what else?—“heart failure.” A year later, the Interior Ministry blamed Magnitsky for the Hermitage tax fraud.